Allergies Abound: What Are Anaphylaxis and Adverse Reactions?
Education and Advocacy The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology wants to improve the standards of teaching and practice of allergy and clinical immunology.
The best predictor for anaphylaxis is previous reactions, but carrying an epinephrine auto-injector can help save lives.
The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI) is one of the oldest specialty societies in Canada. Founded in 1945 as the Canadian Society for the Study of Allergy, it changed its name in 1954 to the Canadian Academy of Allergy and adopted the present name in 1967. The society’s goals include improving the standards of teaching and the practice of allergy and clinical immunology, promoting harmony and understanding between physicians engaged in the practice of allergy and clinical immunology, and several other key principles. Additionally, the society aims to help the general public better understand the world of allergies, immunology, and anaphylaxis.
Adverse reactions to foods and environmental factors can affect us all, whether as allergy sufferers or as caregivers, co-workers, or family members of those who have allergies.
Dr. Harold Kim, President of the CSACI, explains what anaphylaxis is and how to handle these types of allergic reactions. “Anaphylaxis is an abnormal immune response or severe adverse reaction to proteins that are benign to most of us, but that some people have an overreaction to when they eat them or get exposed to them,” he says. “Some of the most common causes of allergic reactions that can cause anaphylaxis include food, insect stings, and medications, with food being the most common.”
“Anaphylaxis is an abnormal immune response or severe adverse reaction to proteins [...] that some people have an overreaction to when they eat them or get exposed to them.”
– Dr. Harold Kim, CSACI
While allergic reactions can vary wildly from person to person and allergy to allergy, when someone has an anaphylactic reaction, they could show symptoms that include skin redness, hives, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Low blood pressure and severe lung involvement can even lead to death in some cases. Usually a person will show two or more of these symptoms, but there are no predetermined factors that allow health care providers to know that someone is prone to having an anaphylactic response. However, one possible predictor is previously having milder reactions to foods, insect stings, or anything that can cause allergic reactions.
Individuals who have a food-triggered allergy and are at risk of anaphylaxis should carry an epinephrine auto-injector, which contains life-saving medication to treat an allergic reaction, and should always be taken to the hospital to be monitored, if using epinephrine becomes necessary. While epinephrine auto-injectors can save lives, it’s also important to know that 911 should always be called and that even once administered, people experiencing anaphylaxis should always be seen and treated by their doctor or medical professionals.