People with severe allergies may suffer an anaphylactic reaction resulting in anaphylactic shock. While this type of allergic reaction is potentially fatal, it can be prevented.

What Is It?
Anaphylaxis is most often caused by a food allergy. Peanuts, seafood, eggs, milk products and tree nuts are the most common culprits. Certain medications, latex, exercise and insect stings can also trigger this type of reaction. Anaphylaxis affects the skin, cardiovascular system, upper and lower respiratory tracts, and the gastrointestinal tract. It is marked by swelling, difficulty breathing, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory disintegration, coma, and death. While it is usually diagnosed in childhood, it is not uncommon to be diagnosed as an adult. It is a good idea to have a medical advisory bracelet that can let others know what you allergic to and that you carry an epipen.

Signs Of An Anaphylactic Reaction
The first signs of anaphylaxis after exposure to an irritant is often a metallic taste in the mouth or an increasing itchiness in the mouth. This may then progress to include an uneasy or upset feeling, a rapid heartbeat, itchy skin, and troubles breathing. After this, anaphylactic shock may occur which is characterized by a drop in blood pressure and a feeling of faintness, coldness and/or clamminess.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may be mild at first but can progress frighteningly quickly. A reaction may not even begin immediately after exposure; it can occur anywhere from within five minutes to two hours after exposure. Additionally, the severity of the reaction can change with each occurrence. Depending on the amount of exposure, among other things, a reaction can be mild or severe. As a result, people who experience anaphylactic reactions should always be prepared for a bad reaction.

Risk Factors
A severe anaphylactic reaction is more likely to occur in people who have an allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, seafood or fish, are taking beta-blocking medication, or have previously experienced a severe reaction before.

A fatal anaphylactic reaction is more likely to occur to children outside of the home while under the care of someone other than their parents. A study conducted in 1992 found that four out of six fatal anaphylactic reactions in children occurred while other people were looking after them. Teens and young adults are also at a greater risk of experiencing a fatal anaphylactic reaction. This is due to the fact that they are more likely to throw discretion to the wind and less likely to take precautionary measures, such as ensuring they have at least one shot of epinephrine with them.