Author | John F. O'brien, MD


The keys to quickly identifying anaphylaxis

July 01, 2005

Abstract: The classic presentation of anaphylaxis includes urticaria, angioedema, dyspnea, and systemic hypoperfusion. However, anaphylaxis may be more difficult to recognize if syncope, bronchospasm, or cardiovascular collapse is the predominant feature. Essential components of the history include previous allergic reactions, medication use, recently ingested foods, and exposure to latex. Although angioedema is often obvious, it also can be subtle and may require asking patients about changes they have observed. Other findings include tachypnea; wheezing; inspiratory stridor; conjunctival injection; rhinorrhea; and hoarseness, which may suggest laryngeal edema. Oxygen with ventilatory support, epinephrine, and crystalloid volume resuscitation are the mainstays of therapy for anaphylactic shock. Additional therapy often includes H1 antagonists, H2 antagonists, and corticosteroids. (J Respir Dis. 2005;26(7):308-316)