Read about anaphylaxis medical facts: what is the definition of anaphylaxis, what are the signs and symptoms, medical treatment & how to treat anaphylaxis, information about the causes, and related anaphylaxis diseases.

Definition: What is "anaphylaxis"?


Anaphylaxis, from the Greek words "ava ana" (against) & "phylaxis" (protection), is a severe type I hypersensitivity & acute systemic allergic reaction in mammals, including humans. This condition occurs when an animal or person is exposed to an allergen that has already become sensitized. Large amounts of this allergen may cause a life-threatening reaction. Anaphylaxis occurs after injection, ingestion & inhalation of an allergen. In the United States, 1% to 17% of the population is estimated at risk for experiencing an anaphylactic reaction if exposed in various allergens, especially insect stings & penicillin. Of those who suffer from Anaphylaxis, 1% die as a result, accounting to 1,000 deaths per year in the United States.

Symptoms & Signs

Anaphylaxis symptoms include respiratory distress, low blood pressure, polyuria, fainting, encephalitis, unconsciousness, flushed appearance, hives, swelling of the face, neck, lips & throat (known as angioedema), tears due to stress & angioedema, itching, anxiety, vomiting, diarrhea & abdominal pain. The time between allergen ingestion & Anaphylaxis symptoms occur vary depending on the amount of allergen consumed & individual reaction time. Symptoms of Anaphylaxis may appear instantly upon ingestion or may be delayed by several hours.

Treatment: How to Treat "anaphylaxis"?

When Anaphylaxis occurs, first aid measures, such as rescue breathing is needed because airways may be constricted. Administration of adrenaline or epinephrine can also help prevent the progression of airway constriction. Patients with history of Anaphylaxis may carry preloaded syringes that contain diphenhydramine (benadryl), epinephrine or dexamethasone (decadron).


Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that affects the entire body. This disease can occur in response to any kind of allergen, such as horse serum, drug allergies, insect stings or bites & food allergies. Pollens & other inhaled allergens cause Anaphylaxis, but this occurs rarely. Some people have anaphylactic reaction without identifiable cause.

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