Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
An allergic reaction usually happens within minutes after being exposed to an allergen, but sometimes it can take place several hours after exposure. A reaction can involve any of these symptoms, and a person could have one or more of these symptoms regardless of the allergen:
- Skin system: hives, swelling, itching, warmth, redness, rash
- Respiratory system (breathing): coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion or hay fever-like symptoms (runny itchy nose and watery eyes, sneezing), trouble swallowing
- Gastrointestinal system (stomach): nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
- Cardiovascular system (heart): pale/blue colour, weak pulse, passing out, dizzy/lightheaded, shock
- Other: anxiety, feeling of “impending doom”, headache, uterine cramps, metallic taste
The most dangerous symptoms of an allergic reaction are:
- Trouble breathing caused by swelling of the airways (including a severe asthma attack for people who have asthma)
- A drop in blood pressure causing dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or weak, or passing out.
- Both can lead to death if untreated.
- Do not ignore early symptoms.
- Always take a possible reaction seriously and act quickly.
- Not every reaction will always look the same; a person can have different symptoms each time.
- Anaphylaxis can occur without skin symptoms or hives.
- A child may describe their symptoms differently than an adult: for example “my throat is tingly” or “my tongue feels scratchy”.