The signs of anaphylaxis can vary from person to person, and the onset of symptoms can be rapid. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that affects multiple body systems. Here are some common signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis:
- Skin reactions:
- Itching, often accompanied by hives (raised, red, itchy welts on the skin).
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, face, or other parts of the body, known as angioedema.
- Respiratory symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Wheezing or persistent coughing.
- Tightness in the chest.
- Cardiovascular symptoms:
- Rapid or weak pulse.
- Low blood pressure (hypotension), leading to lightheadedness or fainting.
- Paleness or bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis).
- Gastrointestinal symptoms:
- Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
- Feeling of impending doom or anxiety.
It’s important to note that anaphylaxis can progress rapidly, and the symptoms can worsen within minutes to hours after exposure to the allergen. In severe cases, a person may experience a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and respiratory distress, which can be life-threatening if not promptly treated.
If you suspect someone is experiencing anaphylaxis or if you are experiencing these symptoms yourself, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services (such as 911 in the United States) or going to the nearest emergency room.
If you have a known severe allergy or a history of anaphylaxis, it’s important to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) with you at all times and use it promptly when symptoms occur, as directed by your healthcare provider. It is also important to inform those around you about your allergy and the signs of anaphylaxis so that they can help in an emergency situation. Regular follow-up with an allergist or immunologist is recommended for proper management and prevention of future episodes.