Anaphylaxis and Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions happen when your body thinks a substance is harmful. This substance is often harmless to most people but not to you. Your immune system tries to fight it off like it’s an invader. Everyday things that cause allergies are pollen, food, medicine, or insect stings.
You might sneeze, itch, or get a rash in a normal allergic reaction. You might also have a runny nose or watery eyes. These reactions are usually mild. They can be annoying but are generally not dangerous.
Anaphylaxis is different. It’s a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. It happens fast and affects your whole body. It can be deadly if you don’t get medical help right away. Signs of anaphylaxis include trouble breathing, a rapid drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. You might also feel your heart racing or experience vomiting and diarrhea.
In anaphylaxis, your immune system goes into overdrive. It releases chemicals that cause your body to react in extreme ways. Your airways can close up, making it hard to breathe. Your blood vessels can widen, causing your blood pressure to plummet. This deadly reaction is why quick action is critical. This is the most severe type of allergic reaction.
If you know you’re at risk for anaphylaxis, you might carry an EpiPen. This device injects medicine to stop the reaction. Epinephrine helps open your airways and improves blood flow. After using an EpiPen, you still need to go to the Emergency Room. The EpiPen buys you time, but you need more treatment.
To sum up, allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form. It needs immediate medical attention. An EpiPen can be a lifesaver but is not a cure. Always seek medical help if you or someone else shows signs of anaphylaxis.
Copyright 2023 William E. Franklin, DO, MBA
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