Anaphylaxis Treatment in Northern New Jersey

Allergic reactions are the immune system’s response to foreign substances. If the body detects something it deems a threat, it quickly responds, resulting in the production of antibodies to protect the body. Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide, with over 100 million people in the United States alone experiencing various types of allergies each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Not all allergic reactions involve the typical mild to moderate symptoms, such as watery eyes, a runny nose, or a rash. In rare cases, exposure to an allergen can cause what is known as anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening condition. Learn more about the causes and treatments of anaphylaxis from Bergen Medical Associates, a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) with convenient locations throughout northern New Jersey.

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Patient sticking auto-injector into their leg to treat symptoms of anaphylaxisAnaphylaxis is a severe and dangerous allergic reaction. It results when an allergen makes contact with a person and causes the immune system to release a flood of chemicals, and the body can go into shock. Common triggers that cause this type of allergic reaction include certain foods, some medications, insect venom, and latex.

What Are the Symptoms of Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis symptoms occur suddenly, typically within minutes of exposure to the allergen. In rare circumstances, anaphylaxis can occur a half-hour or longer after exposure, delaying symptoms for hours. Early symptoms of anaphylaxis can be mild but quickly worsen. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives or swelling
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Clammy skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Tightness of the throat
  • Hoarse voice
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

What Are the Known Risk Factors of Anaphylaxis?

Unfortunately, there are few known risk factors for anaphylaxis. However, research has uncovered some factors that might increase the risk, such as:

  • Previous experiences of anaphylaxis: Patients who have experienced anaphylaxis once before may be at risk for additional reactions in the future.
  • Allergies or asthma: Patients who have either condition are at increased risk of having anaphylaxis.
  • Other existing conditions: People who have other existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or an irregular accumulation of a certain type of white blood cell (mastocytosis) could be at a higher risk of anaphylaxis.

How Is Anaphylaxis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of anaphylaxis is based on the specific symptoms a patient experiences. To help confirm the diagnosis, healthcare providers might ask patients questions regarding their previous allergic reactions. Furthermore, patients may be given a blood test to measure the amount of a certain enzyme (tryptase) that can be elevated up to three hours after an anaphylaxis episode. Patients might also be tested for allergies with skin tests or blood tests to help better identify the allergen that is causing the reaction.

How Is Anaphylaxis Treated?

Because anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, it must be addressed immediately. Failing to get immediate care can lead to life-ending consequences. An individual showing signs of an anaphylactic reaction must be administered an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) by someone who knows how to handle the auto-injector. Two injections, five minutes apart, may be necessary to control symptoms.

Patients need to be rushed to the emergency room after these injections, even if they feel better. Additionally, the trigger that caused the reaction should be removed. For example, if an insect’s stinger is still lodged in the patient’s skin, the emergency care team will remove it.

Once in the care of medical professionals, patients may be hooked up to oxygen machines to assist them with breathing. Patients might also be given IVs to help reduce inflammation of the air passages and improve breathing.

Speak with an Allergist at Bergen Medical Associates

With multiple locations throughout northern New Jersey, Bergen Medical Associates is pleased to offer patients expert care to treat an assortment of conditions, including anaphylaxis. Recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, Dr. Co is a board-certified allergist and immunologist who specializes in allergy and immunology services. Contact Bergen Medical Associates today to speak with a team member or to schedule an appointment.