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What is anaphylaxis?

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Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and is potentially life threatening. It must be treated as a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment and urgent medical attention.

Anaphylaxis is a generalised allergic reaction, which often involves more than one body system (e.g. skin, respiratory, gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular). A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to the trigger and can rapidly become life threatening.

Common triggers of severe allergies or anaphylaxis include:

Food

Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy are the most common food triggers, which cause 90 percent of allergic reactions; however, any food can trigger anaphylaxis. It is important to understand that in some people even very small amounts of food can cause a life-threatening reaction. Some extremely sensitive individuals can react to just the smell of particular foods being cooked (e.g. fish) or even kissing someone who has eaten the food they’re allergic to.

Bites and Stings

Bee, wasp and jack jumper ant stings are the most common triggers of anaphylaxis to insect stings. Ticks, green ants and fire ants can also trigger anaphylaxis in susceptible individuals.

Medication

Medications, both over the counter and prescribed, can cause life threatening allergic reactions. Individuals can also have anaphylactic reactions to herbal or ‘alternative’ medicines.

Other

Other triggers such as latex or exercise induced anaphylaxis are less common.  Occasionally the trigger cannot be identified, despite extensive investigation.

What is anaphylaxis?

 

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