In many cases, allergies result in rashes and watery eyes. However, they can lead to a more serious reaction called anaphylaxis. To help parents know more about anaphylaxis, pediatrician Dr. Joselyn Eusebio shares essential information that every parent should know about.
What is anaphylaxis?
“Anaphylaxis is a severe, life threatening, generalized or systemic hypersensitivity reaction,” Dr. Eusebio explains. “It is potentially fatal as it is characterized by rapidly developing life-threatening breathing and/or circulation problems usually associated with skin and mucosal changes.”
What are the causes of anaphylaxis?
Dr. Eusebio lists the following triggering factors may cause an immunoglobulin E (IgE)- or non–IgE-mediated anaphylaxis:
- In children, food is a significant trigger for IgE-mediated anaphylaxis.
- Milk, eggs, wheat, and soy (MEWS) as a group are the most common food allergens; however, peanuts and fish are among the most potent.
- Some children can develop anaphylaxis from the fumes of cooking fish or residual peanut in a candy bar.
- Other common triggers include preservatives (in food and drugs), medications (antibiotics), insect venom (bee sting), and bioactive substances (eg, blood, blood products).
- Environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, and dust mites are a less common and infrequent cause of anaphylaxis.
- Non-IgE triggers include infection, opiates, radiocontrast dye, and exercise
What can parents do to avoid anaphylaxis?
To reduce the risk of anaphylactic reaction, Dr. Eusebio recommends the following steps:
- Allergist evaluation
- Testing to determine the trigger. Allergists can perform and interpret skin tests to confirm the person’s specific allergen triggers.
- Avoiding triggers. When a trigger has been identified, it should be avoided.
- Wear medical identification. People who have experienced an anaphylactic reaction should wear a medical identification bracelet or similar medical identification tag at all times.
What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?
According to Dr. Eusebio, symptoms of anaphylactic reactions may include:
- Skin: A sudden tingling and warm sensation, itching, flushing, urticaria (hives), and swelling.
- Eyes: Itching, tearing, and swelling of the tissues around the eyes.
- Nose and mouth: Sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itching of the mouth and throat, and metallic taste.
- Lungs and throat: Difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, increased airway secretions, swelling of the upper throat, hoarseness, sounds of labored breathing, and sensation of choking.
- Heart: Very rapid heartbeat, arrhythmia (an irregular heart beat).
- Digestive system: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea.
- Nervous system: Dizziness, weakness, fainting, and a sense of impending doom.
How is anaphylaxis treated?
“Initial management of the pediatric patient with suspected anaphylaxis should include a rapid, thorough assessment of the airway, breathing and circulation, with immediate and concurrent administration of IM epinephrine,” Dr. Eusebio explains. Patients showing symptoms of anaphylaxis must be treated immediately.
- Dr. Joselyn Eusebio - Developmental Pediatrics
- Emergency treatment of anaphylactic reactions. Guidelines for healthcare providers. Copyright - Resuscitation Council. Review Date: 2016 (UK)
- Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Jan; 16(1): 35–40.
- Brown University Health Services | www.brown.edu/health