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(Anaphylactic Reaction; Severe Allergic Reaction)
by Editorial Staff and Contributors
Anaphylaxis is a severe, sometimes life-threatening, allergic reaction. It affects multiple organs, including the heart and lungs.
It is important to seek emergency medical care right away if you have symptoms of anaphylaxis.
Substances that cause anaphylaxis are often called allergens or triggers. Common triggers include:
Some triggers, like dyes used in x-ray procedures, can cause a reaction similar to anaphylaxis.
Risk Factors TOP
Anyone can have anaphylaxis. Factors that may increase your risk of anaphylaxis include:
The symptoms of anaphylaxis usually occur within minutes after exposure to an allergen, but can occur hours later. Symptoms may be mild or severe, including death. They include:
The diagnosis of allergy with a risk of anaphylactic reactions is made based on the person's history. Anaphylaxis will be suspected if you have symptoms and have been exposed to a likely allergen. It is important to see a doctor who specializes in allergies. Skin tests and sometimes blood tests can done by allergy specialists to confirm the cause of the reaction.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical treatment, including:
Note : If you receive emergency epinephrine, you should go to the emergency room right away, even if your symptoms have gone away.
Avoiding substances that trigger anaphylaxis is the best prevention. In addition:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
FARE—Food Allergy Research & Education
Allergy Asthma Information Association
Calgary Allergy Network
Anaphylaxis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113858/Anaphylaxis. Updated August 22, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Anaphylaxis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated June 2016. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Arnold JJ, Willimas PM. Anaphylaxis: recognition and management. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(10):1111-1118.
Sampson, HA, Munoz-Furlong, A, Campbell, et al. Second symposium on the definition and management of anaphylaxis: summary report—Second National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease/Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network symposium. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006;117(2):391-397.
Simons E. Anaphylaxis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;125(2 Suppl 2): S161-S181.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 9/10/2014
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