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Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention. An epinphrine injection can be life-saving.
This potentially life-threatening allergic reaction causes severe itching and a red rash or hives quickly after exposure to an allergen. After being exposed, the person’s immune system releases a flood of chemicals that can cause a patient to go into shock. The person’s blood pressure may suddenly drop, and their airways can swell making breathing difficult. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate injection of epinephrine. A person can lose consciousness or die if anaphylactic shock isn't treated immediately.
Insect stings, medications and food allergies are common allergens that can cause anaphylaxis. Foods that usually trigger anaphylaxis include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy, eggs, wheat and soy. Medications such as penicillin, aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and intravenous contrast dyes used in some X-rays can cause anaphylaxis. Less common causes include latex, medicines used in anesthesia and exercise.
People at a higher risk for anaphylaxis include those with a personal or family history of anaphylactic reactions, in addition to those with asthma or allergies. Normal allergy symptoms are not life-threatening, but they may lead to a severe reaction in the future. If you have ever had a mild anaphylactic reaction, there is an increased risk for developing more severe reactions in the future.