Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. It typically causes more than one of the following: an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure. These symptoms typically come on over minutes to hours.
Common causes include insect bites and stings, foods, and medications. Other causes include latex exposure and exercise. Additionally, cases may occur without an obvious reason. The mechanism involves the release of mediators from certain types of white blood cells triggered by either immunologic or non-immunologic mechanisms. Diagnosis is based on the presenting symptoms and signs after exposure to a potential allergen.
The primary treatment of anaphylaxis is epinephrine injection into a muscle, intravenous fluids, and positioning the person flat. Additional doses of epinephrine may be required. Other measures, such as antihistamines and steroids, are complementary. Carrying an epinephrine autoinjector and identification regarding the condition is recommended in people with a history of anaphylaxis.
Worldwide, 0.05–2% of the population is estimated to experience anaphylaxis at some point in life. Rates appear to be increasing. It occurs most often in young people and females. Of people who go to a hospital with anaphylaxis in the United States about 0.3% die. The term comes from the Ancient Greek: ἀνά, romanized: ana, lit. 'against', and the Ancient Greek: φύλαξις, romanized: phylaxis, lit. 'protection'.