Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of an allergic reaction which occurs promptly and is potentially life threatening.
"Anaphylaxis" originates from Greek, meaning "without protection".
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
An allergic reaction to foods may include one or more of the following symptoms, which may affect one or more organs of the body:
Skin and mucous membranes:
Itching, hives, redness of the skin (flush), swelling of the face
Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
Sneezing, coughing, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath and wheezing
Heart and circulatory system:
Dizziness, weakness, lack of energy, drop in blood pressure, rapid heart rate, unconsciousness, heart/circulatory and/or respiratory arrest
When do we call an allergic reaction "anaphylaxis"? What is an anaphylactic shock?
Allergic reactions affecting the respiratory and/or the heart and circulatory system are anaphylactic reactions. Also, severe reactions occuring in both skin and gastrointestinal system are instructed by our allergists to be treated as anaphylaxis, with the respective emergency medication. This, since reactions occuring in both these systems show that the body starts to show systemic reactions - which often continue then into respiratory and/or circulatory symptoms.
An anaphylactic shock is the actual shock reaction of the body in which the heart/circulatory system collapses.