Glossary of Terms!
Anaphylaxis is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical that has become an allergen. After being exposed to a substance such as bee sting or venom, the person's immune system becomes sensitized to it. On a later exposure to that allergen, an allergic reaction may occur. This reaction happens quickly after the exposure, is severe and involves the whole body. Tissues in different parts of the body release histamine and other substances. This causes the airways to tighten and leads to other symptoms.
Some drugs (morphine, x-ray dye, and others) may cause an anaphylactic-like reaction (anaphylactoid reaction) when people are first exposed to them. Aspirin may also cause a reaction. These reactions are not the same as the immune system response that occurs with "true" anaphylaxis. However, the symptoms, risk for complications, and treatment are the same for both types of reactions.
Anaphylaxis can occur in response to any allergen. Common causes include:
Drug allergies Food allergies Insect bites / stings
Pollens and other inhaled allergens rarely cause anaphylaxis. Some people have an anaphylactic reaction with no known cause. Anaphylaxis is life-threatening and can occur at any time. Risks include a history of any type of allergic reaction.
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