Every year, thousands of Americans suffer from food allergy anaphylaxis due to an undisclosed allergen, misleading product label, or negligent service of a food or ingredient to which they are allergic.
To further explore the medical emergency: Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as a peanut or the venom from a bee sting. The flood of chemicals released by your immune system during anaphylaxis can cause you to go into shock; your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, blocking normal breathing. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include a rapid, weak pulse, a skin rash, and nausea and vomiting. Common triggers of anaphylaxis include certain foods, some medications, insect venom and latex. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate trip to the emergency department and an injection of epinephrine. If anaphylaxis isn’t treated right away, it can lead to unconsciousness or even death. (1)
A couple things to keep in mind with anaphylaxis:
– The Symptoms Aren’t Always the Same Anaphylaxis affects everyone differently. Human bodies can react differently. Some people may have a skin rash and difficulty breathing or swallowing, while others may experience nausea and vomiting. Even though there are common symptoms for anaphylaxis, they can vary drastically from person to person and reaction to reaction.
-It’s Caused by a Substance (allergen) Your Body is Allergic To Things as simple as peanuts, shellfish, eggs, or a bee sting can cause an anaphylactic reaction to happen. The body sometimes quickly lets you know that it can’t handle the substance (allergen) you’re allergic to, while other times, symptoms can take hours to show up. The first line of defense against an anaphylactic reaction is to avoid your allergen.
-Don’t Wait to Get Tested for Severe Allergies Ignoring allergies can be dangerous. Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms, so they can help you identify what you’re allergic to.
-Treatment Is Available Living with, or being at risk for, a severe allergy usually means carrying an epinephrine auto‑injector at all times, which is prescribed by the doctor. Epinephrine auto‑injectors usually come as a pair, because sometimes you need more than 1 dose to treat the anaphylactic reaction.(2)
To clarify, Common anaphylaxis triggers include:
- Certain medications, especially penicillin
- Foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews), wheat (in children), fish, shellfish, milk and eggs
- Insect stings from bees, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and fire ants
Less common causes of anaphylaxis include:
- Medications used in anesthesia
There are also a few risk factors to consider:
- A personal history of anaphylaxis. If you’ve experienced anaphylaxis once, your risk of having this serious reaction increases. Future reactions may be more severe than the first reaction.
- Allergies or asthma. People who have either condition are at increased risk of having anaphylaxis.
- A family history. If you have family members who’ve experienced exercise-induced anaphylaxis, your risk of developing this type of anaphylaxis is higher than it is for someone without a family history. (3)
According to CDC food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 4%–6% of children in the United States. Allergic reactions can be life threatening and have far-reaching effects on children and their families, as well as on the schools or early care and education (ECE) programs they attend. Staff who work in schools and ECE programs should develop plans for preventing an allergic reaction and responding to a food allergy emergency. (4)
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