We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Anaphylaxis?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is an acute allergic reaction which is the result of a hypersensitivity to an allergen. Peanuts and bee stings famously cause anaphylaxis in some people, but a wide variety of allergens can be responsible. Left untreated, anaphylactic shock can be fatal, sometimes in minutes. Fortunately, this type of allergic reaction is extremely rare, and many people become aware that they are at risk for this reaction before they experience an anaphylactic episode, so they are prepared.

In order for anaphylaxis to occur, someone has to be exposed to the allergen at least once before. The body's immune system develops antibodies to that substance, and when the person is exposed again, the immune system goes into hyperdrive, releasing a flood of histamines and other substances in a mistaken attempt to protect the body.

A number of symptoms are associated with anaphylactic shock. The most dangerous is swelling, which causes the airway to constrict. The face of the patient may also become swollen and lumpy, and often an acute skin reaction such as hives emerges. The patient's blood pressure drops while the heart rhythm changes, and the patient may also experience gastrointestinal distress. Vomiting, fainting, dizziness, nausea, and panic are also associated with the reaction.

In some cases, the anaphylaxis is so severe that the patient goes into shock. When this happens, very rapid action must be taken to save the patient's life, because he or she could literally die in minutes from lack of air. The immediate treatment for anaphylactic shock is epinephrine, followed by supportive oxygen therapy and the use of steroids to manage long-term problems associated with the anaphylactic episode.

People who know that they are at risk of anaphylaxis may carry an autoinjector loaded with epinephrine so that in the event of an incident, they can start treatment immediately. Emergency services personnel are still needed, however, and they may inject additional epinephrine along with other drugs. People with allergies are strongly urged to talk to their doctors about severe allergic episodes, to evaluate whether or not they may be at risk for anaphylactic shock, and people who are at risk should instruct coworkers, fellow students, and friends about what to do in an emergency.

Concerns about anaphylaxis are sometimes used to justify restrictive policies in schools and businesses which dictate the foods which people may bring in. For example, some people are highly allergic to peanuts, and rather than run the risk of accidental exposure, administrators may decide that it is safer to simply bar peanuts from the school or workplace to protect someone's safety.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon32918 — On May 29, 2009

People who experience anaphylactic reactions have excessive amounts of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to allergens in their blood. When

the allergen is ingested, injected by an insect or comes in contact with the skin as with latex, the antibodies trigger the release of chemicals, particularly histamines, which cause the anaphylaxis.

By anon28360 — On Mar 15, 2009

Can an allergic reaction be similar to an anxiety attack?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.