Paramedic Procedures I - Fall 1996
In the emergency setting, anaphylaxis is a dangerous, life threatening condition
that must be treated in an aggressive and timely fashion.
Anaphylaxis is a
condition related to acute allergic reactions.
Following the body's exposure to
the offending allergen, there are common systemic reactions.
The most serious
reactions involve the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, but the
gastrointestinal, dermatologic, and genitourinary systems are often involved
causing varied symptoms such as urticaria, flushing, angioedema, bronchospasm,
hypotension, cardiac arrythmias, nausea, intestinal cramps, pruritus, and finally
(Physician Assistant, 8/94)
The above list is by no means
exhaustive, specific symptoms vary from person to person.
The same person
suffering from several anaphylactic reactions can also present with differing
Physiologically speaking, the two main effects of the body's released mediators
(IgE) during an anaphylactic reaction are smooth muscle contraction and
vasodilatation, which cause most of the body's adverse symptoms.
Since the most life threatening reactions usually involve the respiratory and
cardiovascular systems, that is where emergency treatment is focused.
cardiovascular system, a combination of vasodilatation, increased vascular
permeability, tachcycardia, and arrhythmias can lead to severe hypotension.
respiratory system, the swelling of tissues along with bronchospasm and increased