Know about Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a life threatening medical emergency, which unless treated promptly and adequately can lead to death of the individual. Anaphylaxis is a type of immediate hypersensitivity (allergic) disorder. Anaphylaxis generally occurs in individuals who were sensitized to a particular substance (such as penicillin) prior to present exposure. Anaphylactic reaction (which is generally very severe and life threatening if not treated promptly) occurs in individuals’ minutes after exposure to the specific allergen, to which the individual have prior sensitization.

Anaphylaxis is a rare hypersensitivity or allergic disorder which have global occurrence to particular drugs of some particular food items. The incidence is more or less same throughout the world. It is estimated that in United States approximately 400 people die due to penicillin anaphylaxis and approximately 150 people die due to anaphylactic reaction to some food item every year.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

The main symptoms of anaphylaxis involve respiratory system and circulatory system or cardiovascular system. Anaphylaxis causes respiratory distress, edema in larynx, and severe bronchospasm, which makes the person gasp for breathing. Breathing becomes very difficult and if not promptly treated, can result in chocking and death. Followed by respiratory problems, anaphylaxis may result in vascular collapse or shock. Sometimes shock may result without prior respiratory distress.

Other less severe symptoms of anaphylaxis include itching, urticaria, angioedema, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramp, diarrhea etc.

Treatment of anaphylaxis:

Early recognition and prompt treatment is the cornerstone of successful treatment of anaphylaxis as death can result within minutes to hours after symptoms appear. Anaphylaxis is treated with administration of subcutaneous or intramuscular adrenalin (epinephrine) at the dose of 0.3 to 0.5 ml of 1:1000 dilution (or 1mg/ml). If the anaphylactic reaction is severe, the same dose can be repeated after 10-20 minutes. In severe types of anaphylaxis adrenalin may have to be given intravenously slowly at the dilution of 1:10000.

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