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Anaphylaxis is a very serious allergic reaction that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The effects are immediate, and can potentially be fatal. Foods, insect stings, and medications are the most common anaphylactic reactions. Anaphylaxis is rare, and most people recover from it, however, it’s important to understand your potential triggers in order to prevent this allergic reaction from ever happening to you.

Causes of Anaphylaxis

The causes are different depending on age. For children, the most common cause is food. For adults, the most common cause is medication.

Causes of children include:

  • Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Soy

Causes of adults include:

  • Aspirin
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Medications for anti-seizure
  • Penicillin


Symptoms occur within the first few minutes of exposure. Rarely, though, symptoms may not occur until a half hour later from the exposure of an allergen. Symptoms may include:

  • Hypotension
  • Wheezing and breathing, which is caused by a swollen tongue or throat.
  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting


An injection of epinephrine should always be used in a situation when this condition occurs. If you do not have access to epinephrine, go to an emergency room as soon as possible. The effects are fatal if not treated properly. Epinephrine expires after a year, so make sure to update your prescription immediately when the expiration date is near.

How Anaphylaxis Occurs

Your immune system may overreact when you are allergic to a substance by releasing chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. These symptoms typically occur in one part of your body, but some people are susceptible to more than one area. When anaphylaxis occurs, the immune system releases chemicals that make your body go into shock. Your breathing is blocked because your blood pressure drops immensely, as well as your airways narrowing. As it sounds, these effects can have a huge impact on a person and can lead to life-threatening conditions.

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