What is Anaphylactic shock?
Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, is a life-threatening allergic reaction. It is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction. After initial exposure to a substance like bee sting toxin, or to specific types of food, a person's immune system becomes sensitized to that allergen. On a subsequent exposure, an allergic reaction occurs. This reaction is sudden and severe and involves the whole body.
If you or a family member has suffered from food poisoning,
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During anaphylactic shock, tissues in different parts of the body release histamine and other substances. This causes constriction of the airways resulting in wheezing, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Histamine causes the blood vessels to dilate (which lowers blood pressure) and fluid to leak from the bloodstream into the tissues (which lowers the blood volume). These effects result in shock. Fluid can leak into the alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs, causing pulmonary edema.

Hives and angioedema (hives on the lips, eyelids, throat, and/or tongue) often occur. Angioedema may be severe enough to block the airway. Prolonged anaphylaxis can cause heart arrhythmias.
Can ingested substances other than food cause anaphylactic shock?
Some drugs (polymyxin, morphine, x-ray dye, and others) may cause an anaphylactoid reaction (anaphylactic-like reaction) on first exposure. This is usually due to a toxic reaction, rather than the immune system mechanism that occurs with "true" anaphylaxis. The symptoms, risk for complications without treatment, and treatment are the same, however, for both types of reactions.

Anaphylaxis can occur in response to any allergen. Common causes include insect bites/stings, horse serum (used in some vaccines), food allergies, and drug allergies. Pollens and other inhaled allergens rarely cause anaphylaxis. Some people have an anaphylactic reaction with no identifiable cause.

What are the symptoms of anaphylactic shock?

Symptoms develop rapidly, often within seconds or minutes. They may include:
difficulty breathing
slurred speech
rapid or weak pulse
blueness of the skin (cyanosis), including the lips or nail beds
fainting, light-headedness, dizziness
hives and generalized itching
sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)
nausea, vomiting
abdominal pain or cramping
skin redness
nasal congestion
What is the proper treatment for anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a life threatening reaction requiring immediate, professional, medical attention. People with known severe allergic reactions may carry an Epi-Pen or other allergy kit, and should be assisted if necessary. Epinephrine should be given by injection without delay. This opens the airways and raises the blood pressure by constricting blood vessels.
What is the prognosis in a case of anaphylaxis ?
Anaphylaxis is a severe disorder, which has a poor prognosis without prompt treatment. But symptoms usually resolve with appropriate therapy, underscoring the importance of prompt action.
If you or a family member has suffered from food poisoning or anaphylaxis due to food allergies, and you have a question about your legal rights, you can request a free case evaluation from our firm by clicking on free case evaluation. You may also contact us toll free at 1-877-934-6274.
The information contained on this page has been gathered from the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and other sources in the public domain.
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