Anaphylaxis is a severe and even life-threatening form of an allergy. This is defined as the condition where the immune system of body functions improperly towards any allergen like insect bites, medications, food, etc. The immune system protects body from invasion of foreign substances like virus or bacterium by producing antibodies. Generally, a healthy immune system does this.
However in some people, the immune system overreacts to some substances that are usually not considered to be allergic. So, these immune systems set a chemical chain reaction that triggers a flood of chemicals to be released. This improper functioning triggers symptoms of allergy and often the person may go into shock. It hardly takes seconds or minutes for shock to hit the person as he is exposed to substances that he is allergic to. Following lines give information on anaphylaxis symptoms.
The causes of anaphylaxis are categorized into two – IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated. The IgE mediated causes lead to true anaphylaxis that requires sensitizing at first exposure and later on second exposure they show up severe reactions. These causes include animal protein, rubber products, gelatin based products and egg, medications (such as anesthetics, cephalosporin, penicillin, etc), foods (like wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, etc), insect stings, etc.
Non-IgE mediated causes are called anaphylactoid (which means “like anaphylaxis”). These can lead to intense reactions on first or the subsequent exposure because they don’t need sensitization of immune system. The causes of this include exercises, preservatives, X-ray dyes, medications (like gamma globulin, muscle relaxants, NSAIDs, etc) and other unknown causes. The symptoms of this condition vary from one person to another.
The anaphylaxis symptoms can be noticed in a few seconds, minutes or hours as well. The consequences will be severe if the symptoms appear rapidly. The type of symptoms noticed because of a particular cause is the same always. Here are some common symptoms of anaphylaxis:
- Flushing of skin is the early sign of this condition, resulting in redness of skin. It may feel warm and tender to touch the skin.
- One can experience itching at armpit, groin or throughout the body including hives. Itching can be severe and can cause great discomfort.
- This condition can also trigger loss of consciousness and anxiety.
- Swelling in tongue can trigger hoarseness of voice. Also it can cause difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
- One can also observe swelling in throat and airways that can cause severe breathing problems and can even stop the breathing.
- Wheezing, running nose and sneezing can worsen the condition. These can be observed in asthma and hay fever cases.
- Nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting can also be noticed.
- Rapid pulse rate and low blood pressure can also occur.
- In extreme cases, heart may stop pumping blood completely.
- Severe vomiting and light-headedness can also be noticed.