Thursday, March 31, 2011

Foods and anaphylaxis

An extreme reaction of the immune system in response to exposure to foreign substances. Insect bites, drugs, injected serum, and certain foods can create anaphylaxis. This abnormal response or immediate hypersensitivity is usually very rapid in susceptible individuals who may have been sensitized by previous exposure, and may produce shock (“anaphylactic shock”). The massive release of histamines and other inflammatory agents leads to spasming of smooth muscles, especially those of the air passageways, and to widespread swelling due to the increased water leaking out of capillaries. Symptoms range from asthma to fever, itching, hives, and flushed skin in mild cases, to chest constriction, irregular pulse, painful, labored breathing, and convulsions in severe cases. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and may require emergency room care.

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