Anaphylaxis

Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic

Allergists, Asthma Specialists, & Immunologists located in the Pacific Region

Around 5% of Americans have experienced anaphylaxis — a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The doctors at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic provide thorough allergy testing and treatment programs to reduce your risk of anaphylaxis. If you’re concerned about severe allergic reactions, call or schedule an appointment online at any of the 13 convenient locations in four states: in Fremont, Oakland, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Mateo, and San Leandro, California; Clackamas and Gresham, Oregon; Bellevue, Fishers Landing, Longview, and Salmon Creek, Washington; and Eagle, Idaho.

Anaphylaxis Q & A

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis — sometimes called anaphylactic shock — is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. If you have allergies, your body’s immune system responds to allergens by releasing histamines and other chemicals that trigger your allergic symptoms. Most of the time, your allergy symptoms affect one part of your body. For example, if you have hay fever, you have symptoms such as itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, and a cough. 

However, when you experience anaphylaxis, your allergic symptoms affect multiple body parts and symptoms. Additionally, anaphylaxis can affect your respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure.

The most common causes of anaphylaxis include foods such as peanuts, shellfish, and dairy products. Insect stings, latex, and drugs like penicillin can also trigger anaphylaxis. 

What are the warning signs of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis usually starts within 30 minutes of coming into contact with the allergen. It causes a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Skin rash, including hives
  • Swelling in your mouth, throat, or elsewhere in your body
  • Wheezing
  • Troubled breathing and coughing
  • Stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Chest tightness
  • Passing out
  • Skin flushes or you lose color
  • A feeling of impending doom

You may not experience all of these symptoms during your reaction.

What should I do if I or someone near me goes into anaphylaxis?

Call 911. If you or the person suffering the allergic reaction have an epinephrine injector pen, use it. Anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening, so you need to get immediate medical attention.

How is anaphylaxis treated?

If you have allergies, the team at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic provides extensive allergy testing and can identify your risk of anaphylaxis. They teach you how to use your epinephrine injector. They also help you develop strategies to reduce your risk of anaphylaxis. Your doctor also creates an action plan that you should keep on file at work, school, camp, or other places where you or a loved one may need prompt action.

If you end up in the emergency room with anaphylaxis, the doctors provide oxygen, antihistamines, and cortisone to reduce inflammation and help you breathe. While emergency room staff are trained to treat anaphylaxis, the best approach is to work with a trusted allergist at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic to manage your allergies and reduce your overall risk of anaphylaxis.

Call Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic or make an appointment online today for expert allergy diagnosis and treatment.