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What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction that occurs suddenly after contact with an allergy-causing substance. Reactions are caused by the immune system’s misidentification of a foreign substance (allergen) as a dangerous intruder.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis symptoms usually start within a few minutes to one hour after exposure to the triggering substance but rare reactions can start hours later. Signs may include itchy hives or swelling, flushing, throat tightness, trouble breathing, coughing, wheezing, stomach pains, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, passing out and low blood pressure.

What are the triggers of anaphylaxis?


Any food can cause an allergic reaction but the most common culprits are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk and eggs. Delayed symptoms can be associated with a specific type of allergy to meats.

Stinging Insects

Venomous insects, such as fire ants, yellow jackets, wasps, bees and hornets can cause severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, can be a lifesaving treatment for people with this type of allergy.


Strenuous exercise can cause anaphylaxis. Triggers from exercise may only sometimes occur when specific foods are eaten before exercising.


Medications can also cause other types of reactions that are not allergic or anaphylactic reactions, such as swelling associated with ACE- inhibitors used for high blood pressure and rashes caused by the combination of the sun and particular medicines.


Natural latex is from the sap of a rubber tree and is commonly found in balloons, rubber gloves, and medical equipment. Latex allergy is more common in healthcare workers, people with spina bifida or those with a history of multiple surgeries.

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