Anaphylaxis symptoms can be fatal and can cause death within 15 to 30 minutes after the exposure. It is one of the most severe allergic reactions that need treatment immediately. Scroll down for more information.
Allergic reactions are very common among humans and animals. They can be caused due to many factors and can be treated with a number of medications. But anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction which rarely occurs but can be fatal. Two scientists named Charles Richet and Paul Portier isolated the local jelly fish toxin and injected it to a dog in order to find a vaccination against this toxin. They found out that it showed some of the severe reactions like difficulty in breathing and then died within 30 minutes. They termed this immediate reaction as “anaphylaxis” or “against protection”.
They concluded that on exposure to certain allergens, the immune system becomes sensitive and a re-exposure may result in severe reactions. This reaction affects different parts of the body at the same time, in the form of an explosive reaction which can cause death within minutes. The intensity of anaphylaxis symptoms may be different in different people hence, it is not necessary that the reaction which can cause death in one person may have the same effect on the others as well. Let’s find out the symptoms and possible treatments for this dangerous allergic reaction.
Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis causes are divided into two types: IgE mediated and non IgE mediated. IgE mediated causes result in the true anaphylaxis which needs sensitizing at the first exposure and then on the second exposure they induce severe reactions. These IgE mediated causes include medications (Penicillin, Cephalosporin, Anesthetics, etc.), insect stings, foods (peanuts, shellfish, soy, wheat, etc.), egg and gelatin based vaccines, rubber products, animal protein, etc.
Non IgE mediated causes are termed as anaphylactoid (meaning “like anaphylaxis”). These reactions can result into severe reactions on the first or subsequent exposure as they do not require sensitization of the immune system. These causes may include medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, gamma globulin, etc.), X-ray dyes, preservatives, exercises and some unknown causes. These causes may induce symptoms which may vary from person to person.
The symptoms of anaphylaxis may be observed within few seconds, minutes or even hours. The more rapidly the symptoms are observed, the more sensitive and severe will be the consequences. The type of symptoms observed due to a particular cause will be the same all the time. Following are some of the most commonly observed symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Early symptoms may consist of flushing of skin, which may result in redness of the skin. The skin may also feel warm and tender to touch.
- Itching may be observed at the groin or armpit or all over the body including hives. It may be severe and discomforting.
- It may cause anxiety and loss of consciousness.
- Swelling in tongue may be observed which may result in hoarseness of the voice and difficultly in swallowing and breathing.
- Swelling may also be observed in the airways and throat, which may cause severe breathing difficulties and may even stop the breathing.
- Running nose, sneezing and wheezing may worsen the conditions. They may be observed in the case of asthma and hay fever.
- Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea may also be observed.
- Extremely dangerous low blood pressure and rapid pulse rate may occur.
- In very severe conditions the heart may stop pumping completely.
- Light-headedness and sever vomiting may also be observed which are some of the anaphylactic shock symptoms.
Treatment of Anaphylaxis
In some of the cases the symptoms observed may be mild which fade and diminish with time. But in about 20% of the cases, the patient may require immediate treatment and hospitalization. In some of the cases, the symptoms may even re-occur after 4 to 12 hours. Hence, the patient needs to be under close observation.
Treatment which may help in curing severe allergic condition caused by anaphylaxis mainly consist of epinephrine, or adrenaline drug. This drug immediately contracts the blood vessels which prevents the fluid leakage and relaxes the airways which comforts the breathing problems. It also reduces the skin conditions and helps in relieving stomach cramps. Intravenous fluid and oxygen may also be supplied to the patients to overcome this condition. The dosage and the intervention of the treatment will depend upon the severity of the allergic reaction.
As soon as you observe anaphylaxis symptoms call 911 immediately for emergency help. By the time they arrive, try to keep the person calm and stay with him till help arrives. The best way to avoid such severe conditions is to stay away from the food and other things which can induce allergic reactions.