Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic response to an allergen exposure. There are varying triggers of anaphylaxis, including allergy to foods, medications, insect stings and latex. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include some or all of the following: skin flushing and/or hives; swelling of such sites as the lips, eyes, feet, and/or hands; cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and/or chest tightness; hoarseness, throat tightness, and/or difficulty swallowing; lightheadedness or feeling of “impending doom”; and loss of consciousness and/or extremely low blood pressure.

In general, treatment of anaphylaxis includes the immediate use of injectable epinephrine, an antihistamine and observation in the emergency room or by a highly trained physician. Delay in the administration of these medications may result in failure to respond to treatment.

It is possible for symptoms to reappear even after initial appropriate treatment. Even if the anaphylaxis symptoms diminish after the administration of medications, it is recommended that emergency medical services be called by phoning 911, and that the patient be transported to the emergency room for prolonged observation after the event.

Evaluation by an allergist can provide answers, such as testing to identify the cause, discussion of preventative measures, and when possible, treatment to reduce allergic sensitization, thus decreasing the severity of the reaction should it occur again.

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