(pronounced Ana fill axis)
Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction, and can be life-threatening. The main triggers for anaphylaxis in children and young people in New Zealand are food allergies. Other triggers are allergy to bee or wasp venom; latex (rubber); and drugs (e.g. penicillin). There is also a condition called exercise-induced anaphylaxis where exercise – either on its own or in combination with other factors such as food (e.g. wheat) or drugs (e.g. aspirin) can induce a severe reaction. Less common causes include exposure to cold; and in some cases a trigger can’t be found (known as idiopathic anaphylaxis).
It is important to note that allergic reactions to food, insect stings, drugs and/or exercise may be more severe in those who have asthma compared to those who don’t have asthma.
Reactions usually happen within minutes of exposure to the food, insect or medicine which the person is allergic to, and must be treated as a medical emergency. It requires immediate treatment with adrenaline, and first aid. The patient will then need to taken to a hospital emergency department for further treatment and/or observation.
An allergic reaction becomes life-threatening (anaphylaxis) when it affects the airways, breathing and/or circulation:
Swelling of tongue
Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
Wheeze or persistent cough
Pale and floppy (young children)
Shock (pale, clammy)
Loss of consciousness