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Anaphylactic Shock - Anaphylaxis

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is a severe allergic reaction that affects the whole body. It can lead to death.

What is going on in the body?

Anaphylaxis is a response to a substance to which a person has become very sensitive. An antibody called IgE causes cells to release a variety of substances called mediators. These mediators are responsible for the allergic reaction. They affect blood vessels, smooth muscle, and inflammatory cells all over the body.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Anaphylaxis is often an allergic reaction to one of the following:

  • aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen
  • contrast agents, which are injected for some special X-ray tests
  • foods, such as nuts, berries, eggs, beans, seafood, grains, and chocolate
  • hormones, including insulin, methylprednisolone, and progesterone
  • latex rubber
  • local anesthetics, such as lidocaine and procaine
  • penicillin, cephalosporins, and other antibiotics
  • physical stimuli, including exercise and cold air
  • pollen from plants
  • venom from a snakebite
  • venom from spiders, yellow jackets, hornets, or honeybees

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