Anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction. The thought of you or your child experiencing this type of reaction can be scary. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ease your mind and manage the risk of anaphylaxis. The more you know about the condition, the more empowered you can feel.
This quiz offers information on minimizing risks, understanding warning symptoms and being prepared to respond quickly in the event of an emergency.
Either. While anaphylaxis typically occurs within minutes or even seconds after exposure to an allergen, it is possible for symptoms to be delayed an hour or more. There are also cases where symptoms go away only to return a few hours later.
False. Anaphylaxis typically involves more than one symptom in more than one part of the body at the same time. For instance, a serious reaction could involve developing a rash and vomiting or diarrhea after being exposed to an allergen. Other warning signs of a serious reaction include:
The most dangerous symptoms are low blood pressure, breathing difficulty and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal.
True. These common foods may be harmless substances for most people, but having an allergy to these or any other foods can trigger an allergic reaction. Foods that cause the majority of life-threatening reactions are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnut, cashew, Brazil nut), shellfish, fish, milk and eggs.
Pollen. Out of this group, pollen is not known to cause life-threatening reactions. Medications, foods, latex and stinging insects are allergens most likely to cause anaphylaxis. While rare, there is a chance of experiencing a serious reaction after exercising.
False. While having previous mild reactions to an allergen is a strong predictor regarding the intensity of future reactions, a mild reaction does not guarantee that your next reaction won't be more serious.
True. Autoinjectable epinephrine (adrenaline) should be given early to help stop or slow down the reaction from getting worse. People with a severe allergy or a history of anaphylaxis should carry epinephrine with them at all times. Remember to refill your prescription if your epinephrine has expired.
Thigh. Evidence shows that epinephrine should be given in the anterior thigh muscle.
False. Antihistamines and corticosteroids can sometimes used in addition to epinephrine, but these medications are not a substitute for epinephrine.
True. Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment. First with an injection of epinephrine, followed by a trip to a hospital emergency room. If it isn't treated properly, anaphylaxis can be fatal. Sometimes symptoms go away, and then return a few hours later, so if you have taken epinephrine and are feeling better, go to the hospital anyway to make certain your reaction is under control. Once you've had an anaphylactic reaction, be sure to tell your allergist.
All of the above. The risk of you or your child suffering a life-threatening allergic reaction is frightening. Being prepared for an emergency can help. Work with your allergist / immunologist to identify allergens that trigger symptoms so that you can avoid these allergens. Your physician can help you develop an action plan for emergency situations. Know how to administer epinephrine and teach others who are in close contact with you or your child. Last, but not least, keep epinephrine close by at all times for emergency use.