Anaphylaxis can kill by causing shock, stopping a victim’s heart or breath, sudden loss of blood pressure, or by swelling a victim’s throats so he or she suffocates.
Here is how to prevent anaphylaxis:
• Learn about your allergies. Consult a board-certified allergist and undergo appropriate tests, then avoid whatever causes the allergies. Exercise, insect stings, medicines, foods and dyes injected for certain X-ray procedures are the most common causes of severe allergic reactions.
• Avoid unproven allergy tests and treatments, including cytotoxic testing, urine injections and sublingual provocation and neutralization.
• Carry an epinephrine injection kit at all times. Make sure you and people close to you know how to use it.
• Wear a medical emergency identification listing your known allergies.
• Avoid foods to which you are allergic. Carefully read ingredient labels on foods.
• In restaurants, ask the server about meal ingredients. Be assertive: One man died of anaphylaxis after being assured his meal didn’t contain peanuts; It did.
• Learn which foods are related to those to which you are allergic. If you are allergic to shrimp, you also may be allergic to other shellfish or fish.
• When invited to dine at someone’s home, tell the host or hostess about your food allergies ahead of time.
• Learn the names of all medications to which you are allergic, as well as medications related to them.
• Inform all doctors who treat you about your allergies to medications.
• When in doubt, ask your doctor about the safety of any medication.
• Keep a written record of the names and appropriate doses of all medications you take.
Insect Sting Allergies
• Keep your environment free of food debris. Food attracts yellowjackets.
• Be careful while gardening.
• Don’t wear anything that would suggest a flower. Avoid hairspray, perfume and lotions. Avoid wearing black or brightly colored clothing.
• Avoid wearing loose clothing. Insects can get trapped in it.
• Always wear shoes when you go outdoors.
• Ask an allergist about allergy shots, called venom desensitization, for allergies to insect stings.
Allergy to Exercise
• Exercise with a friend who knows how to administer epinephrine.
• Don’t exercise for at least four and preferably six hours after eating. Exercise allergy often is associated with food allergies.
• Avoid aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs before exercise. The painkillers have been associated with exercise-induced anaphylaxis in some patients. If you develop hives, itching or other symptoms while exercising, stop.
Even though it can save their life, many people prone to anaphylaxis don’t carry epinephrine injection kits with them at all times. This is the first step in preventing anaphylaxis. Epinephrine decreases swelling induced by anaphylaxis and lowers your blood pressure. It also fights secondary symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as itching, flushing, hives, sneezing etc. If you want to prevent anaphylaxis, make sure you keep an epinephrine injection kit with you at all times.