How Can You Determine if Your Allergy Will Lead to Anaphylaxis?

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How Can You Determine if Your Allergy Will Lead to Anaphylaxis?

Determining if an allergy will lead to anaphylaxis isn’t cut and dried. Every person can have their own unique response to allergen exposure. Some people just get itchy hives, others might tear up and have a runny nose, but what’s really scary is when your throat closes up and you can’t breathe.

At the office of Maricar Cutillar-Garcia, MD, in Valencia, California, we routinely perform allergy testing to discover what substances you are allergic to, administer allergy shots if they can help you become less sensitive to your allergens, and provide lifesaving guidance on how to avoid anaphylaxis from an allergic reaction.

Anaphylaxis: What is it?

Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. You can have an anaphylactic response to a range of allergens, but the most common are:

  • Seafood/shellfish
  • Legumes/tree nuts
  • Insect stings
  • Latex
  • Certain medications

If you are allergic to any of the above, you need to consider your heightened risk of anaphylaxis.

Additional risk factors for anaphylaxis

Just having a known allergy can’t tell you whether or not you’ll have an anaphylactic reaction. There are additional factors you should consider to better manage your risk:

Medical history

Have you had an anaphylactic reaction before? If so, you are at higher risk of a repeat incident. You’re also at higher risk if you have a family member who has experienced anaphylaxis. 

Severity of any past reactions 

How severe your reactions have been in the past are not always indicators of how severe another reaction would be. You could have multiple mild reactions and then an instance of anaphylaxis. 

Types of allergens

Certain foods (including peanuts and shellfish) have historically been most commonly associated with anaphylaxis. Insect stings, especially those from bees, also carry a higher likelihood of triggering a severe reaction. If you have a strong allergic response to any allergen, your risk for anaphylaxis increases.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis often occurs within just minutes of being exposed to an allergen, especially a food-related or insect-related allergen. Watch for rapid onset of symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face, throat, and tongue
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure 
  • A rapid or weak pulse
  • Sudden hives
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

Anaphylaxis requires prompt treatment to prevent potential airway closure and suffocation.  Ask your doctor about a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector for emergency use if necessary. Be aware that a second episode, known as a biphasic reaction, can happen up to 12 hours after exposure, so always have at least two pens on hand.

Reducing your risk

The best way to reduce your risk of anaphylaxis is to have an allergy specialist helping you manage your care. Dr. Maricar Cutillar-Garcia can help identify allergy triggers, evaluate your level of risk, and help you learn how to reduce that risk and manage symptoms.

You should be aware of the risks surrounding allergies and anaphylaxis, well-educated on how to manage an anaphylactic attack, and supported by a medical team to reduce your risk of severe illness or death. To get started, call our office at 661-607-2759 or book an appointment online today.