Anaphylaxis is acute reaction of the body to allergy, and it can be fatal.
Anaphylaxis can strike within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen. Or it may sneak up slowly, with symptoms delayed up to two hours from the time of exposure. Initial symptoms may even disappear, then return full-force within 4 to 12 hours.
It’s a terrifying feeling, you may become flushed, and your skin may become quite itchy and red. The frightening thing is, you begin to feel you’re having difficulty taking a full breathe, that you are suffocating. As your blood pressure drops, you feel dizzy and sweaty and become pale. You body is not kidding. Anaphylaxis can kill by suffocation.
Anaphylaxis is systemic reaction, during which exposure to an allergen triggers an allergic response throughout the body rather than just near the site.
Findings about anaphylaxis.
1. It doesn’t take much to trigger this body-wide allergic response – a single peanut or tiny paper wasp can set off the reaction.
2. During an anaphylactic attack, a rush of chemicals – histamines, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins – is released in an attempt by the body to defend itself. These chemicals are produced by basophiles found in the blood, mast cells found throughout the body, including eyes, noise skin and gastrointestinal tract.
3. Anaphylaxis may affect many organs, such as the throat, lungs, blood vessels, and intestines.
4. Histamine and other chemicals released by the body may produce widespread itching, welts, and hives on your skin.
5. It can cause blood vessels to become leaky, resulting in a drop in blood pressure, swelling of the skin, and fluid in your lungs.
6. It may bring circulation of your blood and oxygen to a near-standstill as your blood pressure drops.
7. There is nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, wheezing and difficulty swallowing, at first. It makes it difficult or impossible to breathe as your tongue and throat swell up and your lungs go into asthmatic spasms.
8. It triggers nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as your gastrointestinal system goes haywire.
9.There's a metallic taste in the mouth, cramping of the uterus during pregnancy, sudden need to urinate.
10. There is heart palpitation, a feeling of light-headedness or faint, and can lead to loss of consciousness (syncope), .
11. Around 90% of adults didn’t even tell their doctors about their anaphylaxis reactions.
12.Chances are: If you have had anaphylaxis in the past, the odds are you will have it again. (from 380 anaphylaxis patients)
•25% had just 1 episode
•18% had 2 episodes
•57 % had 3 or more
Causes of Anaphylaxis
1. Food – peanut, shellfish, crustaceans,
2. Insects – fire ant, honeybee, bugs
3. Drugs – more than ½ million serious allergic reaction occur in hospitals (Penicillin)
4. Latex – condoms, balloons, gloves
5. Exercise – eating 3-4 hrs before exercising increases risk
8. Blood transfusions
9. Food additives
10. Poisonous plants, such as lipang kalabaw and sabawil atap.
Recommendation: Keep a diary of your allergens and avoid them. Weed out your refrigerator, cupboard, drawers. Allergens may appear in an unsuspecting product. Prevention and vigilance are important. Seek medical treatment immediately before anaphylaxis sets in.
References: Ansorge R and E Metcalf et al (2001) Allergy Free Naturally Rodale Inc NY, 532 pp; Rotor AB (1983) The Men Who Play God: A Collection of Yen Short Stories Ateneo de Manila University Press 147 pp