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Anaphylaxis and what to know

Anaphylaxis is a life threatening allergic reaction. This occurs when your immune system overreacts to an allergen and causes a full body reaction.

Common causes for anaphylaxis include food allergies (commonly peanuts, treenuts, shellfish, fish, milk, and soy), medications, insect venom, and environmental allergens. Rare causes include exercise, anesthesia, and idiopathic (occurring without a specific trigger). 

Anaphylaxis can occur within seconds to minutes after an allergen exposure.

Symptoms may include rash/hives, facial swelling, throat swelling, difficulty breathing, wheezing, tight chest, dizziness, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Anaphylaxis is diagnosed if two organ systems are involved. For example, a patient eats a peanut and develops hives followed by difficulty breathing or hives plus dizziness. 

Anaphylaxis should be promptly recognized and treated with epinephrine first. If an epi pen is not available, dial 911 or present to the nearest emergency department for treatment. 

If you are concerned about an allergic reaction, see a board certified allergist for further evaluation. 

Remember, "Epi first, epi fast!" 

Dr. Monica Sandhu Dr. Monica Sandhu is a board certified Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Immunology physician. She is the founder of Magnolia Allergy and Asthma located in Dallas and Corsicana, Texas.

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