Is It Anaphylaxis?

Now, this is not my field. This site is much more about food sensitivity and unusual forms of that than classical IgE allergy. But, it is important you know how to recogniose anaphylaxis so that’s why this page is here.

Symptoms to watch out for…

Anaphylaxis is not that easy to recognise but if in any doubt at all, you must call the emergency services immediately. Just because someone hasn’t had it before, does not mean they can’t start it at any time so be safe!

The most common reaction is pretty immediate and the severest will affect breathing and circulation which is why it is so dangerous.

These are the most common symptoms of a severe allergic reaction according to the Anaphylaxis Campaign (see below):

  • generalised flushing of the skin
  • nettle rash (hives) anywhere on the body
  • sense of impending doom
  • swelling of throat and mouth
  • difficulty in swallowing or speaking
  • alterations in heart rate
  • severe asthma
  • abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
  • collapse and unconsciousness

BUT, it can affect several body areas too according to NIAID (see below) so keep your eye out:

  • Skin—itching, hives, redness, swelling
  • Nose—sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose
  • Mouth—itching, swelling of lips or tongue
  • Throat—itching, tightness, difficulty swallowing, swelling of the back of the throat
  • Chest—shortness of breath, cough, wheeze, chest pain, tightness
  • Heart—weak pulse, passing out, shock
  • Gut —vomiting, diarrhoea, cramping
  • Nervous system—dizziness or fainting


How do you know if it’s anaphylaxis?

Usually, one or more of the following is present:

  • Symptoms start within minutes to several hours and involve skin, mucosal tissue (such as tissues lining the respiratory and GI tracts), or both.
  • There can also be trouble breathing
  • Blood pressure drops, leading to paleness, weak pulse, confusion, dizziness or fainting, within minutes to several hours after exposure to a substance to which you know you have an allergy.


If you recognise those, seek help immediately especially if you have a history of allergy/sensitivity reactions.

More information:

Anaphylaxis Campaign (UK)

FoodsMatter’s Anaphylaxis Resources section

An Anaphylaxis Action Plan, written by Ruth, a sufferer herself

Below is a video from Anaphylaxis Campaign on how to recognise an anaphylactic episode. There are several other useful videos on their site.