Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that needs to be treated right away. If we have an anaphylactic reaction, we need an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot as soon as possible, and someone should call for emergency medical help. Left untreated, it can be deadly.
Epinephrine can reverse the symptoms within minutes. If this doesn't happen, we may need a second shot within half an hour. These shots, which we need a prescription to get, come pre-filled and in ready-to-use pens.
We shouldn’t take an antihistamine for an anaphylactic reaction.
Anaphylaxis is rare, and most people recover from it. But it's important to tell our doctor about any drug allergies we have before any kind of medical treatment, including dental care. It’s also a good idea to wear a medical alert bracelet or pendant or carry a card with information about our allergy.
The first signs of an anaphylactic reaction may look like typical allergy symptoms: a runny nose or a skin rash. But within about 30 minutes, more serious signs appear.
There is usually more than one of these:
Coughing; wheezing; and pain, itching, or tightness in our chest
Fainting, dizziness, confusion, or weakness
Hives; a rash; and itchy, swollen, or red skin
Runny or stuffy nose and sneezing
Shortness of breath or trouble breathing and rapid heartbeat
Swollen or itchy lips or tongue
Swollen or itchy throat, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing, tightness in our throat
Vomiting, diarrhea, or cramps
Weak pulse, paleness
Some people also remember feeling a "sense of doom” right before the attack.
As many as 1 out of every 5 people may have a second anaphylactic reaction within 12 hours of the first. This is called a biphasic anaphylaxis.
Epinephrine is the most effective treatment for anaphylaxis, and the shot should be given right away (usually in the thigh).