What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.
Anaphylaxis is the most severe kind of allergic reaction. It can cause death, although the majority of reactions are less severe. It is also sometimes described as "allergic shock" or "general allergic reaction" or "systemic allergic reaction". Anaphylaxis must always be taken seriously as it is impossible to know in advance how severe a reaction will be.
An anaphylactic reaction usually involves more than one body system. For example, a local reaction would be a wasp sting that causes swelling near the site of the sting. However if generalized hives and respiratory difficulties were to develop, it would be classified as an anaphylactic reaction.
An anaphylactic reaction can progress in severity very quickly. Without the immediate administration of epinephrine, death can result. (Epinephrine is a synthetic version of adrenaline, a hormone that occurs naturally in the body.)
There are deaths every year in Canada due to anaphylaxis and while the number is not large, many occur in young adults and teens and most are preventable. Families with anaphylactic children often feel overwhelmed since a considerable amount of effort must be put into avoidance strategies on a daily basis. They are frequently worried that others do not understand the condition and will not take the avoidance strategies seriously or will make choices based on incorrect information.
Most severe anaphylactic reactions result from insect stings, medications, food, latex and, in rare cases, exercise.
Source: The AAIA Anaphylaxis Reference Kit, an educational tool to improve the management of anaphylaxis across Canada.
Learn how the 3 As will help you cope: Awareness, Avoidance, Action
Peanut and Nut Allergies: The Facts
Many people believe that peanuts and nuts come from the same botanical family.
In fact, peanuts are a member of the legume family (peas, beans and lentils).
Nuts grow on trees and sometimes are called tree nuts to distinguish them from peanuts.
People allergic to peanuts are not necessarily allergic to tree nuts, and vice versa.
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Milk allergy results from a hypersensitivity of the immune system to the proteins in cow's milk. Symptoms can occur within minutes or hours of contact with milk... [read more...]
Allergy to eggs is caused by the immune system's reaction to a protein in eggs. Two factors are necessary for a food allergy to occur - genetic predisposition and exposure to the food. The seriousness of reactions to eggs varies from mild to life-threatening, depending on the person and the amount of egg eaten. [read more...]
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by Mary Allen, AAIA CEO
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Health Canada has prepared regulatory amendments to enhance labeling requirements for specific priority allergens, gluten sources and sulphites in prepackaged foods sold in Canada. [read more...]
by Lois King, AAIA Volunteer, Ottawa, ON
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Report to House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, March 14, 2002
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