What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe, ​life-threatening allergic reaction in two or more body systems, different from daily symptoms. It requires immediate response and medical attention. It requires immediate response and medical attention​.

Anaphylaxis and Mast Cell Disease

Anaphylaxis is an acute, life-threatening, systemic reaction that results from the sudden, rapid, systemic release of mediators from mast cells and basophils. Anaphylaxis symptoms present as new or worsening symptoms including:

  • Mouth: itching, swelling of lips and/or tongue
  • Throat: itching, tightness, closure, hoarseness
  • Skin: itching, hives, redness, swelling, flushing
  • Gut: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps
  • Lung: shortness of breath, cough, wheeze
  • Heart: weak pulse, dizziness, passing out

Only a few of these symptoms may be present. Although the diagnosis usually depends on the involvement of 2 organ systems, even if anaphylaxis presents with 1 organ system, epinephrine administration may be indicated. Anaphylaxis may present as an acute cardiac or respiratory event or with hypotension as the only manifestation of anaphylaxis.

Symptoms can be life-threatening! ACT FAST!

Check our Table 3 on our Signs and Symptoms page for more information on anaphylaxis: When Does this Become Anaphylaxis?

Clinicians with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology have just released new guidelines regarding the standard of care for when a person experiences anaphylaxis. As a result, TMS is updating its resources to conform to the new standard.


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