What is the definition of Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis alertAnaphylaxis is a severe, life threatening, generalised or systemic hypersensitivity reaction that it is characterised by rapidly developing life threatening airway and/or breathing and/or circulation problems, usually associated with skin or mucosal changes.

When anaphylaxis is fatal, death usually occurs very soon after contact with the trigger (antigen).

  • Food fatalities cause respiratory arrest typically after 30 – 35 minutes 
  • Insect stings cause collapse from shock after 10 – 15 minutes
  • Intravenous medication deaths commonly occur within 5 minutes

Common triggers of Anaphylaxis are listed below:

  • Ingested – seafood, nuts, fruit, medication, eggs, dairy, colouring agents
  • Injected – insect stings, drugs, contrast media
  • Inhaled – pollen, dust, spores
  • Contact – latex, dyes

The main treatment of Anaphylaxis is Adrenaline / Epinephrine. This drug can stop the anaphylactic reaction and save the patient’s life. People with a known serious allergy may carry this drug in the form of an autoinjector (common brand names include EpiPen and Jext). 

Want to learn more about Anaphylaxis and the common signs and symptoms? Sign up to our free online Anaphylaxis Awareness training course.


John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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