Allergies are oftentimes acute reactions to repeated exposure to allergens and they do not often pose very serious damages to the human body. However, there is one type of rare allergy that can be life-threatening, especially if not addressed immediately and appropriately.
Like all other types of allergies, anaphylaxis begins with an exposure to an allergen. Once the body distinguishes an allergen as potentially harmful, it releases an antibody called immunoglobulin E. The initial exposure is called sensitization and is asymptomatic, however, as the exposure progresses, the body tends to develop serious immune responses that can affect the entire body. In a way, the entire body becomes allergic to the allergen.
Due to the lack of concrete definition of the syndrome, the exact number of incidence in America cannot be fully ascertained. Experts estimate though that anaphylaxis counts for at least 1% of the entire population. This means that the syndrome is very rare.
Anaphylaxis can affect all age groups. Female adults are more likely to develop anaphylaxis than male adults. However, among children, males are more susceptible than their female counterparts.
The symptoms of anaphylaxis vary from one case to another. However, onset normally begins with skin rash, a runny nose, or a general feeling of sickness. Due to the rapid development of the allergy, these symptoms can quickly become aggravated, leading to a host of complex symptoms. These more serious symptoms are inclusive of difficulty of breathing, abdominal pain, tightness of the chest and the throat, coughing, nasal congestion, slurred speech, wheezing, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, low blood pressure, diarrhea as well as rapid heart palpitations. The patient could also end up having cardiac arrest.
The full blown anaphylaxis often consists of urticaria or hives, angioedema (a condition characterized by swelling of the dermis), bronchospasm and hypotension. All these symptoms can ultimately lead to unconsciousness and then death.
The exact cause of anaphylaxis is not yet known but it is believed that there is a host of substances that are attributed as triggers. However, it is commonly associated with various components and events that trigger the allergic reaction. These include foods, medicines, latex, insect stings as well as exercise and x-ray dyes. Nonetheless, common allergens can also cause anaphylaxis.
Diagnosis of anaphylaxis is only feasible if the symptoms are present. However, since symptoms of anaphylaxis are commonly associated with other comorbid diseases and syndromes, it is often difficult to distinguish whether a person will develop anaphylaxis or not. Patients of other allergies are more susceptible to the development of this allergy than those who do histories of allergy.
Injection of epinephrine could best counter the anaphylactic symptoms. This is a type of an adrenaline which effectively reverses the symptoms and stabilizes the body. Once the symptoms are stabilized, the person will be administrated with intravenous medicines and fluids that will augment the current weakness of the circulatory system, especially the lungs. After which, histamines and steroids will be delivered to the bloodstream to further normalize the body.
Persons who have allergies are advised to see doctors for preparation options. Usually, doctors prescribe a handy epinephrine injection kit which can be brought with you at all times.
It is also good to carry with you an identification card that states your allergies so that treatment can be facilitated immediately in case of an emergency.