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Anaphylaxis

Overview

Anaphylaxis is a severe medical condition caused by the hypersensitivity to the allergens. It is an acute systemic disease that calls for medical emergencies. Anaphylactic Shock is the most severe stage of this acute disease and is fatal within minutes, if left untreated. The term “Anaphylaxis” was coined by the scientists who were experimenting on dogs. In their experiment they were immunizing the dogs with small doses of poison. This process is called “Prophylaxis”. The dogs died when another dose of poisonous injections were used. This happened due to the over action of the dogs’ immunization of the body against the disease. Hence by, this term was called “Anaphylaxis”, which means opposite of protection. According to the studies, around 1% to 15% of the population of the United States comes under the risk zone for having an anaphylactic reaction. The USA faces around 1500 deaths per year under this disease.


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Causes

The whole concept of this acute disease is based on the fact that wrong signals leads to over functioning of the immunity system of the body to fight against an allergen. An initial exposure to an allergen (element causing allergy), can make a person sensitized to that particular substance. On the exposure to the second “shocking dose” the allergic reactions appear. The level of reaction is severe and sudden and involves the whole body of the patient. There are certain allergens which can lead to anaphylaxis condition:-

    * Foods like peanuts, certain fruits, fishes and even spices are listed among allergens.
    * Drugs like penicillin, aspirin, and other painkillers called NSAIDs, certain anaesthetic drugs and some intravenous infusion liquids injected during X-rays also infuse severe anaphylactic reaction.
    * Latex is also one common allergen that the health workers are at risk due to the constant exposure in their daily lives.
    * Bee or yellow jacket wasps are dangerous allergens and are powerful enough to cause faintness, difficulty in breathing or rash or swelling almost instantly.
    * Exercise is also seen to be the cause of anaphylactic shocks in certain cases. This mostly happens after the patient takes food and then sits for the exercise. You may also call it “Exercise Induced Food Dependent Anaphylaxis”.


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Signs & Symptoms

There are certain notable symptoms such as:-

    * Polyuria and respiratory distress
    * The patient may suffer from low blood pressure due to the dilation of the blood vessels.
    * Encephalitis and fainting and urticaria (hives) and flushed appearance are also possible symptoms.
    * Swelling of lips, neck and throat can be life threatening because it leads to total blockage of the respiratory track and may prove to be fatal.
    * Vomiting, itching and diarrhea and abdominal cramps and anxiety are also seen in patients.

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Prevention

The best possible prevention is to avoid the known allergens at all cost. Though, those patients who already have faced an attack of anaphylaxis should always keep in handy a syringe of drug called Epinephrine.  A vaccine has been in work to prevent food related allergy though FDA has still not approved the vaccine.


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Treatments
Injection of Epinephrine Modern Medicine

Injection of adrenaline called Epinephrine is the main source of treatment. The adrenaline quickly opens up blood vessels and increases heart beats, leading to proper supply of blood to the brain and other organs of the body. Over dose of Epinephrine injections will lead to total cardiac arrest because in certain cases the heart beat has seen to be gone up to 240 beats per minute. So, over dose must be strictly avoided.

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