I was raised to think of anaphylaxis as one thing: throat closing/shock. As someone with asthma, that was also part of my anaphylaxis equation i.e. anything with a side of asthma is bad news and warrants serious attention. I was reminded of this last week whilst attending Dr. Paul Ehrlich’s monthly support group as a guest. I stopped in with Brooklyn Allergy Mom and met up with author Henry Ehrlich.
(The Ehrlich cousins have an asthma book out: Asthma, Allergies, Children: A Parent’s Guide By Paul Ehrlich, M.D., Larry Chiaramonte, M.D. with Henry Ehrlich. Here’s Paul’s post on that meeting about training yourself to use the Epi. And Zum Family Blog Janeen’s guest post about how to call 911.)
I realized, in my 20/20 hindsight, that the reaction I had from kissing that dude back in 2009 i.e. wheezing + hives = anaphylaxis. What I learned as a child, well, the definitions have been refined. The newest definition according to the NIH panel is that anaphylaxis affects two or more bodily systems:
Here are the parts specifically that may be affected:
• Skin—itching, hives, redness, swelling
• Nose—sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose
• Mouth—itching, swelling of lips or tongue
• Throat—itching, tightness, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness
• Chest—shortness of breath, cough, wheeze, chest pain, tightness
• Heart—weak pulse, passing out, shock
• Gastrointestinal (GI) tract—vomiting, diarrhea, cramps
• Nervous system—dizziness or fainting
So SKIN + RESPIRATORY = ANAPHYLAXIS.
I went over my emergency plan (find them here) with my pulmonologist the next day and had a check up and feel very lucky that my symptoms hadn't progressed.
Have you read the guidelines yet? Have you gone over your emergency plan plan with your doctor? Practice using an Epi or have isntructions for a 911 call? Do it now, whilst you are well.