Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Reaction from Anaphylaxis Underlying Cause

Anaphylaxis occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, called an allergen. The immune system is made up of special cells, called white blood cells, which fight infection. When an allergen is present in the body, white blood cells recognize the allergen, and release chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals can cause inflammation of the skin, nose, throat, lungs or intestines.

Organ Systems Affected in Anaphylaxis

Organ SystemTypical Symptoms and Findings
Skinhives, swelling, itching
Cardiovasculardizziness, weakness, fainting, chest pain, shock
Lungschoking, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, wheezing
Gastrointestinalnausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps
Neurologicheadaches, seizures

Substances that trigger allergic reactions include:

Last Updated: Nov 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Reaction from Anaphylaxis References
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  2. Busse WW: Mechanisms and advances in allergic diseases. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000 Jun; 105(6 Pt 2): S593-8. [10856163]
  3. Nimmagadda SR, Evans R 3rd: Allergy: etiology and epidemiology. Pediatr Rev 1999 Apr; 20(4): 111-5. [10208083]
  4. Reisman RE: Insect stings. N Engl J Med 1994 Aug 25; 331(8): 523-7. [8041420]
  5. Sheikh A, Walker S. Anaphylaxis. BMJ. 2005 Aug 6;331(7512):330. [16081446]
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