Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur within seconds or minutes after exposure to an allergen, such as peanuts or bee stings.

During an anaphylactic reaction, the immune system releases a cascade of chemicals that can lead to a state of shock, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure and constriction of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. There are several warning signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, including a rapid and weak pulse, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, and other systemic manifestations.

Common triggers for anaphylaxis include certain foods, medications, insect venom, and latex. It is important to administer epinephrine as soon as possible in cases of anaphylaxis, either through injection or using an autoinjector device. Seeking immediate medical attention at an emergency room is crucial if epinephrine is not available, as untreated anaphylaxis can have fatal consequences.

It is essential to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and be prepared to respond swiftly in order to minimize the risk and ensure appropriate treatment is administered without delay.


Symptoms of anaphylaxis typically appear minutes after being exposed to an allergen. Anaphylaxis, which typically manifests within seconds or minutes following allergen exposure, can also occur after a delay of thirty minutes or more. In rare situations, the onset of anaphylaxis may even take several hours to manifest. Some warning signs and symptoms are:

  • Airway narrowing and tongue or throat swelling, which can lead to wheezing and breathing difficulties.
  • Reactions on the skin, such as hives, itching, and flushed or pale skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Low blood pressure with a weak pulse

In the event that you, your child, or anyone in your vicinity is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, it is imperative to immediately call for emergency medical assistance. It is crucial not to wait for the symptoms to subside on their own.

Delaying medical attention in the face of a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Time is of the essence in these situations, and quick medical intervention is vital to ensure the best possible outcome.

If you experience an attack and have an epinephrine autoinjector with you, use it as soon as possible. Even if your symptoms become better after the injection, you should still visit the emergency department to make sure they don’t come back, even if you haven’t been exposed to the allergen again. Biphasic anaphylaxis is the name for this second reaction.

If you or your child has ever experienced a severe allergic reaction or the warning signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, schedule an appointment to see your doctor.

Consulting a specialist who specializes in allergies and immunology is often necessary for the diagnosis and long-term management of anaphylaxis due to the inherent challenges involved.


Antibodies are created by the immune system to protect against foreign chemicals. This is advantageous when a foreign substance—such as certain germs or viruses—is detrimental. However, the immune systems of some individuals overreact to chemicals that ordinarily don’t cause allergies.

Although allergy symptoms are rarely fatal, a severe allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis. There is a chance of experiencing more severe anaphylaxis with another exposure to the allergen, even if you or your child has only ever experienced a mild anaphylactic reaction in the past.

Food allergies in children, including those to fish, shellfish, milk, wheat, soy, sesame, peanuts, and tree nuts, are the most frequent causes of anaphylaxis. In addition to allergies to shellfish, fish, sesame, and peanuts, adults can get anaphylaxis from:

  • Bees, wasps, hornets, fire ants, or yellow jackets stings
  • Latex
  • A few drugs, such as certain antibiotics, over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin, and the intravenous contrast used in several imaging tests

Although it’s rare, some people can get anaphylaxis after engaging in aerobic exercise like jogging or even less strenuous physical activity like walking. Exercise in hot, cold, or humid conditions has also been associated to anaphylaxis in some persons. Consult your doctor about the safety measures you should take when working out.

Certain tests can help you identify the allergen, which triggers the allergic reaction. Idiopathic anaphylaxis is a condition in which the cause of anaphylaxis is unknown.

Risk factors

Anaphylaxis has few established risk factors, although some items that could do so are as follows:

  • Anaphylaxis history. Anaphylaxis raises your likelihood of experiencing this life-threatening event again. Future responses could be more severe than the first response.
  • Allergies or asthma. Both conditions enhance the likelihood of developing anaphylaxis in a person.
  • Other health problems. Heart disease and mastocytosis, an unusual buildup of a specific type of white blood cell, are two examples.