itchiness, swelling of tongue and lips, metallic taste
redness, hives, swelling of skin, face or body
tightness, hoarseness, hacking cough, difficulty swallowing
breathing, shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, wheezing
nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea
unsteadiness, drowsiness, sense of impending doom, coma
can lead rapidly to unconsciousness and death if not properly treated.
happens during a reaction?
individual produces antibodies (IgE) which recognize specific proteins
(allergens). These antibodies are on the outside of mast cells and
basophils. These cells are located hroughout the body. When an allergen
couples with the IgE antibodies, histamine and other mediators of
anaphylaxis are released from the mast cells and basophils. These
mediators cause blood vessels to leak (which leads to swelling and
drop in blood pressure) and airways to narrow (wheezing).
does a reaction look like?
may not always appear the same way in an allergic individual.
of reaction, is also unpredictable. The amount of the allergen (trigger),
asthma, the use of beta-blockers (cardiovascular medication) can
affect the reaction. That's why avoiding the trigger and immediate
treatment are so important.
is the best treatment for anaphylaxis?
(adrenaline) is a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal glands.
It is released at times of stress and causes what is often called
the "fight or flight" response. We all know the symptoms,
the pounding heart, anxiety, tremor. It increases heart rate, sends
blood to the muscles, narrows blood vessels and opens the airways.
When you give yourself a dose of epinephrine, you are giving your
body something that it is making already. You are just giving it
faster and at a higher dose.
side effects of epinephrine can include pounding heartbeat, paleness,
dizziness, weakness, trembling, headache, throbbing, restlessness,
anxiety and fear. Epinephrine reverses the negative effects of an
anaphylactic reaction. It is well recognized that early use of epinephrine
can be life-saving. Therefore, it is essential that someone who
has been prescribed this medicine keep it with them at all times.
A person who has had a reaction, no matter how mild, needs t be
seen in an emergency department. The reaction can return and become
more difficult to treat. If symptoms reoccur after the first injection,
a repeat injection can be given after 10-20 minutes while en route
to emergency care. Antihistamines or asthma inhalers cannot replace
epinephrine in the treatment of an anaphylactic reaction, although
they may be given in addition to epinephrine.
typically comes in an auto-injector. In Canada, the EpiPen®
is the only device available. It is easy to use and if used correctly,
significant injury is unlikely. Directions for use are on the package
insert. The outer thigh is the safest site for injection because there
are no major blood vessels or nerves in this area.