Although anaphylaxis (allergic shock) is not common, it cannot be neglected because it can cause death. In this article, important points will be addressed in an understandable way.

What is Anaphylaxis in Adults?

Anaphylaxis is a very serious allergic reaction with rapid onset and can be fatal. The faster this condition develops, the greater the risk of being fatal. Therefore, its diagnosis and treatment should not be delayed.

What Causes Anaphylaxis in Adults?

Foods (especially nuts, fish, eggs, wheat, etc.), drugs (most often penicillin), bee sting and latex stand out as the most common causes of allergy-related anaphylaxis. Painkillers such as aspirin and contrast agents used in medicated filming may cause anaphylaxis by allergy-like mechanisms. In a group of patients, the cause of anaphylaxis is unclear. This condition is called idiopathic (cause unknown) anaphylaxis.

What are the Symptoms of Anaphylaxis in Adults?

Since anaphylaxis is a general allergic reaction that can affect the whole body, it can manifest itself in different ways. It can vary from person to person and from event to event. It usually occurs within 1 hour (often within minutes) of encountering the allergen causing the reaction.

The most common symptoms are skin findings such as itching, rash, urticaria (hives) and angioedema (swelling of lips, eyelids, hands, etc.). In addition, many patients report that they feel like they are going to die in that moment. Nasal congestion, sneezing, hoarseness, cough, shortness of breath when the respiratory tract is affected; When the digestive system is affected, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea may occur. If the heart and circulatory system are affected, dizziness, palpitations, hypotension (drop in blood pressure) may occur.

What Should I Do If I Have Anaphylaxis Symptoms?

When allergic shock is an emergency that can result in death, it is necessary to apply to the nearest health center where emergency intervention is possible. After the emergency situation regresses, the patient should be evaluated by an allergist.

How should I prepare for going to the doctor for anaphylaxis?

The first tool that physicians use when evaluating their patients is medical history. Therefore, when applying to your physician, it is important to review your history and try to remember the possible causes (medication, food, etc.) you were exposed to, especially before the event. If you are using medicines, it will be helpful to count their names or bring them with you, bring a written report from the emergency service you applied to, including your examination findings and the intervention. If a skin allergy test is to be done, you may be asked to stop your allergy medication about 1 week before.

How is anaphylaxis diagnosed?

In the diagnosis of anaphylaxis, physical examination findings, blood pressure, etc. measurements and history are important. Blood tests that can be checked at the time of allergic shock can be helpful for diagnosis and to distinguish from similar medical conditions. Allergy tests on the skin and / or blood can then be performed to determine the underlying possible cause.

How is anaphylaxis treated?

Supporting the respiratory and circulatory system of the patient is the primary approach in emergency intervention. For this, when anaphylaxis is considered, an injection containing adrenaline (epinephrine) is administered to correct the shock picture. Oxygen and breath-opening therapies can be given to support breathing, intravenous fluids and other medications can be given to support blood circulation. After the first treatment, patients should be observed for 4-6 hours for late reactions.

An auto-injector (self-administered adrenaline injection) is provided that patients can use when they encounter  a similar situation.

Is there a herbal treatment for anaphylaxis?

There is no known proven herbal treatment for anaphylaxis. Since it is an emergency that may result in death, the nearest medical center should be consulted.

What happens if anaphylaxis is not treated?

Anaphylaxis (allergic shock) is a medical condition that requires immediate attention. Approximately 1% of the patients who are brought to the hospital in the picture of anaphylaxis die. The cause of death of anaphylaxis is often the shock picture due to a serious drop in blood pressure. Another cause of death due to anaphylaxis is the pause of breath due to edema and congestion in the larynx.


Allergic shock is a potentially fatal medical condition that should always be taken seriously. Its diagnosis and treatment should not be delayed. Possible underlying causes should be investigated, patients and their relatives should be adequately informed and prepared for the next attack.

Important information

Allergy Specialists (now called Immunology and Allergy Diseases Specialist) are doctors who have received special training in asthma and allergic diseases seen in those older than 18 years of age, and have received an Immunology and Allergy Specialist diploma and are also experts in Internal Medicine or Chest Diseases or Dermatology. Pediatric allergists for asthma and allergic diseases in children, adult allergy specialists in adults have specialized and they are doctors who are experienced in this field and have a diploma. Every patient with a history of anaphylaxis should be evaluated by an allergist.

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