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    Allergies and Anaphylaxis

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    Treatment continued...

    Epinephrine expires after about a year, so make sure your prescription is up to date. If you have an anaphylactic reaction and the pen has expired, take the shot anyway.

    When medical personnel arrive, they may give you more epinephrine. If you’re not able to breathe, they may put a tube down your mouth or nose to help. If this doesn’t work, they might do a kind of surgery called a tracheostomy that puts the tube directly into your windpipe.

    Either in the ambulance or at the hospital, you may need fluids and medications to help you breathe. If the symptoms don't go away, doctors may also give you antihistamines and steroids.

    You probably will need to stay in the emergency room for several hours to make sure you don't have a second reaction.

    After the initial emergency is over, see an allergy specialist, especially if you don't know what caused the reaction.

    Causes

    Anaphylaxis happens when you have an antibody, something that usually fights infection, that overreacts to something harmless like food. It might not happen the first time you come in contact with the trigger, but it can develop over time.

    In children, the most common cause is food. For adults, the main cause is medication.

    Typical food triggers for children are:

    • Peanuts
    • Shellfish
    • Fish
    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Soy
    • Wheat

    Common food triggers for adults are:

    • Shellfish
    • Tree nuts (walnuts, hazel nuts, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, and almonds)
    • Peanuts

    Some people are so sensitive that even the smell of the food can trigger a reaction. Some are also allergic to certain preservatives in food.

    Common medication triggers are:

    • Penicillin (more often following a shot rather than a pill)
    • Muscle relaxants like the ones used for anesthesia
    • Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
    • Anti-seizure medications

    Anaphylaxis also can be triggered by a few other things. But these aren’t as common:

    • Pollen, such as ragweed, grass, and tree pollen
    • Stings or bites from bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants
    • Latex, found in hospital gloves, balloons, and rubber bands
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