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    Understanding Anaphylaxis -- Diagnosis & Treatment

    How Is Anaphylaxis Diagnosed?

    Your doctor will know if you’ve had this severe allergic reaction is by its symptoms. He’ll also ask about your exposure to things known to cause allergies, also known as triggers.

    The symptoms include:

    Understanding Anaphylaxis

    Find out more about anaphylaxis:

    Basics

    Symptoms

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Prevention

    • Swelling of your lips or tongue
    • Trouble breathing
    • Hives
    • Swelling or tightness in your throat
    • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Fast heartbeat
    • Low blood pressure
    • Stomach pain

    It’s hard to know if you’re in line for a severe allergic reaction before it happens. But if you have any history of allergic reactions -- mild, moderate, or severe -- it’s more likely you’ll have a severe reaction in the future.

    Your doctor will use a series of tests to check how you react to things that cause allergies. Some tests just examine your blood, but others involve exposing you to a bit of the stuff that might cause your allergy:

    • Skin prick or scratch testing: The doctor places a small drop of allergen on your skin and scratches but doesn’t break the skin’s surface.
    • Intradermal, or percutaneous testing: The allergens go under your skin and the doctor watches for signs of an allergic reaction.

     

    How Is Anaphylaxis Treated?

    Epinephrine is the main treatment. It rapidly reverses the uncomfortable flushing and itching as well as the more serious problems with breathing and dangerous drop in blood pressure that comes with this type of reaction. More important, if given in time, this drug can reverse the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylactic shock.

    If you’re allergic to insect stings or any of the foods that cause anaphylaxis, or if you ever have had an anaphylactic reaction, ask your doctor to prescribe an epinephrine injection kit. Carry two injections at all times, and know how to use them. Make sure your family members, friends, and colleagues know the signs of anaphylaxis and can give you an injection if they need to. Don’t hesitate to use it if you start to show any symptoms of anaphylaxis. It won’t hurt you to take the shot as a precaution.

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