Anaphylactic shock

What is anaphylactic shock?

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs quickly and can cause a life-threatening reaction of the whole organism. This reaction can lead to severe breathing difficulties and shock and even death.

In order to develop an anaphylactic reaction, a person must have been exposed to the substance that caused the body’s reaction in the past. The “irritant” substance is called an antigen.

And the condition is called sensitivity to this substance.

For example, being stung by a wasp for the first time will not cause an allergic reaction from the first sting.

However, the subsequent sting can cause a severe allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock.

These reactions usually begin a few seconds to a few minutes after exposure to the antigen. Less often they start later.

It is possible to develop sensitivity and anaphylaxis to a substance that you have been exposed to many times without your body reacting and not even remembering it.

What are the symptoms?

The most severe and life-threatening symptoms are difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness. Difficulty breathing is due to swelling or spasms of the airways.

In very rare cases, breathing may stop completely.

Loss of consciousness can also be caused by dangerously low blood pressure, a condition called “shock”. In more severe cases, the heart stops pumping blood.

These severe reactions can potentially lead to death from anaphylaxis.

While some of the symptoms are life-threatening, others are just a nuisance. The skin becomes red and starts to itch. Swelling of the tongue, face, lips, throat, hands and feet is possible.

Treating anaphylactic shock

Do not attempt to treat anaphylactic shock at home. If you are able, immediately go to the nearest emergency medical center or call 112.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, it is most important to remain calm:

  • If possible, determine the cause of the severe allergic reaction and stop exposure to the antigen.
  • Take some antihistamine such as 1-2 tablets of diphenhydramine if you can swallow without difficulty.
  • If you can’t catch your breath or are wheezing, use an inhaled bronchodilator such as albuterol if you have it on hand. These inhaled medicines stimulate the expansion of the airways and make breathing easier.
  • If you feel dizzy and weak, lie down and raise your legs high above the level of your head to help for more blood to flow to the brain.
  • If you have injectable epinephrine – synthetic adrenaline, inject it yourself as you have been instructed or ask someone around you to do it. A moderate dose of synthetic adrenaline quickly reverses even the most serious symptoms of anaphylaxis.
  • If possible, you or those around you should be prepared to let medical personnel know what medications you have taken and when you have had anaphylaxis.

How to protect yourself?

Anaphylactic shock is a serious health condition that can develop as a result of a rapid and aggressive allergic reaction of the body to the substance called an allergen.

To effectively protect ourselves from this dangerous scenario, we should take several important precautions and understand how to act in the event of an incident.

Avoidance of contact with the allergen is key. If you are aware of a certain substance that causes allergic reactions, do your best to avoid it.

Read food labels carefully and make sure the ingredients do not include the allergens you are sensitive to.

When requesting food at home or during visits to restaurants, be careful and ask about the contents of the food.

If you are allergic to insect stings, take steps to protect yourself from them.

Wear long-sleeved clothing and pants when outdoors to reduce the possibility of contact with insects. Avoid strong scents and perfumes that can attract insects.

Also, note that insects are often attracted to bright colors, so avoid wearing them, especially for outdoor activities.

It is important to know what the symptoms of anaphylactic shock are and how to react adequately.

Typical symptoms include a sudden severe allergic reaction, such as heart problems, difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, swelling of the face and throat, and a severe lung reaction.

In case of suspected anaphylactic shock, seek medical help immediately. If you are en route, contact an ambulance or go to a nearby hospital.

If you have a pre-prescribed epipen (adrenaline injector), use it as directed.

Keep calm and try to lie on your side with your legs elevated, which can help improve circulation.

Also, it is a good idea to let your loved ones know about your allergies and what to do in case of an emergency.

This can help to respond quickly and efficiently in case of need.

Knowledge about anaphylactic reactions and how to prevent them is essential to maintain our health and react properly in critical situations.

Remember that information and education are the best tools for preventing and maintaining good health.

Also remember to visit your GP regularly in case you experience symptoms of anaphylactic shock. Timely response is important and can often be life-saving.

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