What is the difference between anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock?

Anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock are terms often used interchangeably, but there is a slight distinction between the two:

Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can affect multiple organ systems throughout the body. It is characterized by the sudden onset of symptoms and the involvement of two or more body systems, such as the skin, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and gastrointestinal system. Anaphylaxis can progress rapidly and requires immediate medical attention. The symptoms can include skin reactions (such as hives and swelling), respiratory symptoms (difficulty breathing, wheezing), cardiovascular symptoms (low blood pressure, rapid pulse), and gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting). Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that can be triggered by various allergens and requires prompt treatment with epinephrine.

Anaphylactic Shock: Anaphylactic shock is a severe form of anaphylaxis characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure, resulting in inadequate blood flow to vital organs. It is a life-threatening condition that can occur during anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic shock is associated with a profound cardiovascular collapse and can lead to organ failure if not promptly treated. The low blood pressure in anaphylactic shock can cause symptoms like dizziness, loss of consciousness, and confusion. Treatment for anaphylactic shock involves immediate administration of epinephrine, along with other supportive measures to stabilize blood pressure and maintain organ function.

In summary, anaphylaxis refers to a severe allergic reaction involving multiple organ systems, while anaphylactic shock specifically refers to the life-threatening condition that can occur as a result of anaphylaxis when there is a significant drop in blood pressure. Anaphylactic shock is a severe manifestation of anaphylaxis, requiring immediate and aggressive treatment to restore blood pressure and prevent organ damage.

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