Anaphylaxis










About Anaphylaxis



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Anaphylaxis can be defined as a life threatening and sometimes fatal allergic reaction. It is an allergic reaction that involves several organ systems simultaneously. When you are experiencing this severe reaction, symptoms will manifest in the lungs, skin, throat, nose, or gastrointestinal tract. This type of allergic episode is sometimes called anaphylactic shock, although you may experience this severe allergic event without going into shock, and this would entail a precipitous drop in blood pressure.

Anaphylaxis usually occurs after an individual has been initially exposed to an allergen. After that first exposure, the person becomes highly sensitized to that particular allergen. When they are exposed once again, a dangerous allergic reaction will occur and this usually happens within minutes. There are numerous allergens that may cause a person to experience anaphylaxis. These can include: insect bites, drugs such as vaccinations, foods like peanuts or shellfish, or chemicals like latex. Note that peanuts and tree nuts alone are responsible for about 80 percent of all fatal reactions. In some cases, physical exertion has shown to be a contributing factor in this condition.



Symptoms



There are many different symptoms that one can exhibit during an experiencing anaphylactic episode. Some of these would include: difficulty breathing, dizziness, coughing, hives, stomach pain, cramping, anxiety, confusion, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, wheezing, a blocked airway caused by the swelling of the throat, and even coma. If the episode continues for a long enough period of time, it may cause heart palpitations, an irregular heartbeat, or a heart attack.

It would be wise for any individual with food allergies to be cognizant of the signs and symptoms of this dangerous condition. It is also prudent to remain aware of the allergens that are especially implicated in these life threatening attacks, such as peanut, bee stings, and shellfish. It should be noted that people with asthma are of particular concern because they are at an increased risk for this condition. Moreover, those who have experienced anaphylaxis in the past are more likely to suffer attacks subsequently.



Diagnosis



This condition is normally diagnosed during childhood, but it has been known to develop in adulthood. Unfortunately, it is not possible to know whether or not you are susceptible to anaphylaxis until you experience an episode. Once a person has experienced this type of attack, it is imperative that the individual visit a physician or allergist to identify the specific allergies that caused the attack and to receive proper instructions on how to treat the reaction in case of future occurrences. Subsequent attacks are indeed a concern, since approximately 25% of the individuals who have suffered one reaction will have a reoccurrence sometime in the future.






Prevention



Those individuals who are prone to severe allergic reactions need to undergo formal allergy testing with a conventional allergy doctor or an energy-based allergy doctor, sometimes known as NAET practitioners. Once you are aware of your allergies, you will be better able to avoid the substances that are of particular danger to you, especially when foods are implicated, since you can choose to avoid what you ingest.

If allergy testing indicates one is allergic to insect stings or venom, the physician may recommend immunotherapy. These are weekly injections that contain minute doses of the actual allergen that you are sensitive to. The injections continue for a period of time until a patient builds up immunity to the allergen. Immunotherapy has shown to help patients with severe allergies, especially those patients with allergies to insect stings. If testing shows that foods are the primary cause of a patient’s allergic reactions, then conventional allergy doctors will most likely recommend avoidance, where patients are cautioned to completely avoid those particular foods. NAET doctors, however, have had considerable success in eliminating food allergies through a non-invasive approach based on the principles of acupuncture. Those who are interested in alternative treatment might prefer to contact an naet physician.



Treatment



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The primary treatment for anaphylaxis is epinephrine. For those individuals prone to serious allergy attacks, physicians will most likely recommend that they carry an EpiPen, AnaKit, or Twinjects, so that epinephrine can be administered during a life threatening attack. The syringe in these kits is designed for one single use and the medication works to counter mast cell mediators by helping blood vessels to constrict. There have been studies indicating that pharmacists are the most likely health professionals to show patients the proper use of the epinephrine auto-injectors. Also, many pharmacies have dummy injectors which they can use when training patients, and this has shown to be quite helpful. Once individuals are trained in the physical administration of their auto-injector, they are advised to use the injector if they are experiencing symptoms in two or more parts of the body. For example, they may have trouble breathing, they may develop hives, and they may feel faint.

Individuals who have a history of severe allergy attacks should consider wearing a bracelet that identifies them as being prone to anaphylaxis. One such supplier of these bracelets is a company named MedicAlert, in Turlock, California. Bracelets such as these can be enormously helpful in an emergency situation. For example, if you were found unconscious after ingesting an allergen, or after being stung by an insect, medical responders could read the information on your bracelet and administer the proper life-saving assistance. Aside from medical bracelets, it is wise to be well prepared in the event of severe allergy attacks in the future. You can do this be working out an emergency plan. Write down your plan so that everyone in your family can be aware of its details, including: items the patient is allergic to, location of the epinephrine injector, and the best medical service to call in emergencies (ones that carry epinephrine). Also, when children are involved, their teachers should be made aware of there emergency plan as well.



Conclusion



Anaphylaxis is a life threatening allergic reaction and should not be treated lightly. If an individual is at risk for an anaphylactic reaction, they should always be equipped with a epinephrine auto-injector, as one needs to be well prepared in the event of a severe allergic episode; it is a good idea to have all family members trained in the administration of the auto-injector. When a family member is prone to anaphylaxis, the entire family needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms of an attack. Also, an emergency plan should be in place and it should be posted so that all family members can refer to it. Finally, if you are prone to severe allergy attacks, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet. This can save your life if medical response personnel find you unconscious after an attack.

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