By The Allergy Center, PA
June 01, 2020
When people think of allergies, the images that come to mind are sneezing and runny noses. Though this is true, there are other types of allergic reactions as well. Patients with severe allergies that are exposed to their allergen are put in extreme danger. It can lead to anaphylaxis, where the airways begin to close. The important thing when you or a loved one begin experiencing a severe reaction is to stay calm. Learn what you should and shouldn’t do in this situation by scheduling an appointment with your allergist.
What Are Allergies?
Your immune system protects your body from unwanted pathogens. It’s what keeps you safe and healthy! Yet sometimes your body can overcompensate. When detecting a substance like pollen, your immune system will identify it as an invader and kickstart an allergic reaction. People experience a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and itchy eyes.
Every patient reacts differently. Certain allergens also produce different effects. Allergens that cause contact symptoms can leave your skin red, irritated, and peeling. Others can create hives and bumps across your body. Even certain airborne allergens can create asthma, a tightening of the airways. It’s important to take the initiative and talk to your allergist about your symptoms. This is the best way to find a successful treatment.
Severe Allergic Reactions
Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to encountering an allergen. It mainly happens as a result of an insect sting, medication, latex, or food. The severity of the symptoms is what separates it from other allergic reactions. Patients will experience side effects across the entire body.
Be on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Swelling of the tongue, lips, and throat
- Rash outbreak
- Shortness of breath
- Tightening of the throat
- Abdominal distress
You need to act quickly in the face of a severe reaction to avoid anaphylaxis. Patients who have previously been diagnosed should have an EpiPen with them or nearby. Epinephrine is the only medication that can reverse an allergic reaction. Depending on your symptoms, your allergist may want you to use epinephrine even when things are mild.
What Should I Do If I’m Having a Severe Allergic Reaction?
- Use epinephrine as prescribed by your allergist. This often means using it at the first sign of a severe reaction.
- The next step is to call 911. Tell them that you have had a severe reaction and injected yourself with epinephrine.
- Either go in the ambulance or get a ride to the emergency room. This is important even if your symptoms start to subside. You may need further treatment or evaluation to make sure everything is under control.
In the emergency room, your medical team will give a few medications to help stop or relieve the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Steroids bring down your body’s inflammation levels after an attack. These are given either orally or intravenously. Steroids stop your reaction from starting up again. Antihistamines block your body’s production of histamine, the chemical released during an allergic reaction.