Not all allergies are simple and innocuous. A severe allergic reaction, commonly called an anaphylactic shock, is usually triggered within seconds of exposure to an allergen. Anaphylaxis initiates a violent and exaggerated response of the immune system. A flow of histamine and other types of substances is then released into the bloodstream, causing airways to tighten and blood pressure to drop radically. Not only can these systemic reactions cause fainting, they can also be life-threatening. This is what is called an anaphylactic shock. The most common allergens known to cause an anaphylactic shock are foods, medications and insect bites. Ultimately, anaphylactic shocks can be prevented by avoiding contact with culprit allergens.
Individuals who suffer from such violent allergies are well aware they must be ready to react quickly at all times, should such an emergency occur. Firstly, it is important for a sufferer to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of their specific severe allergic reaction, and they must ALWAYS carry their emergency medications. Anaphylactic shocks are treated by injecting adrenaline, also known as epinephrine (auto-injectors, EpiPen®), as quickly as possible. It is also recommended emergency services be contacted prior to giving the injection. According to a study in which 413 children suffering from food allergies were surveyed however, it would seem that nearly one anaphylactic shock out of five requires more than one dose of adrenaline to control symptoms.
In order to be ready to react more quickly and efficiently in case of an emergency, allergy sufferers should always have two auto-injectors on hand, rather than just one. They should also check the expiration dates on their auto-injectors regularly, and know how to use them correctly. These precautions would be particularly valuable in cases where one dose of adrenaline is insufficient in treating an attack, or in cases of problematic or broken auto-injectors. There are auto-injectors currently available that allow the administration of two doses of adrenaline, rather than a single one. Although these measures may sound like simple common sense, they should not be overlooked, because they can actually save lives!