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Ever wondered why you cough, sneeze, get a runny nose and red-eye after inhaling dust particles. Ever wondered why you vomit and itch after taking in penicillin and chloroquine respectively?. The reasons are best explained in anaphylactic reactions.

Anaphylactic reaction is also known as Type 1 hypersensitivity. It is an abnormal immediate, hyperactive reaction experienced in individuals as a result of inhalation, consumption and direct contact with certain substances in our environment.  These substances are under wise known as allergens.

Note: Not all individuals come down with anaphylactic reaction upon consumption, inhalation and direct contact with the substances explained below

Probable substances that lead to anaphylaxis when consumed

  • Shell-fish
  • Egg white
  • Cow milk
  • Nuts (Peanuts)

Certain schools nowadays have banned the consumption of peanuts and peanut butter, for they have high tendency of inducing anaphylaxis in children.

Probable particles that lead to anaphylaxis when inhaled

  • Pollen
  • Dust mite

Inhalation of pollen (male fertilizing agent of flowering plant) and dust mite (microscopic arachnids found in our home) that are dispersed through dust are a major cause of anaphylactic reaction.

  • Insect stings

Stings from insects such as bees and wasp are also a major cause of anaphylaxis

How allergens induce anaphylaxis

mechanism behind hypersensitivity

When an allergy prone person comes across an allergen (anaphylaxis inducing substance). Such individuals’ bodies respond by producing large amount of IgE antibody. The IgE activates the Mast cells to release histamine and cytokines to the point of contact.

The release of histamine and cytokines to the point of contact with allergen in the body causes lead to a whole lot of symptoms listed below.

Symptoms of anaphylactic reactions

  • Hive (Inflammation/swelling) especially from insect bite
  • Cough
  • Wheezing (Heavy/Noisy and difficult breathing)
  • Itching/Skin rash
  • Anaphylactic Shock
  • Death

Common treatment of anaphylaxis

Quick administration of antihistamine drugs and adrenaline injection

Intravenous fluid replacement


Allergen: A substance that is capable of causing cough, inflammation, itching, wheezing when consumed or inhaled.

Allergy: A medical condition that causes someone to become sick after direct contact, consumption, and inhalation of substances that are harmless to other people.

Anaphylactic Shock: This is referred to as a severe, sudden and fetal hyperactive reaction to allergen in certain persons. This could lead itching, collapse of the circulatory and respiratory system, drop in blood pressure, swelling of body parts and death.

Asthmatic patients are advised to stay clear from dusty places, food and body contact with what could induce anaphylactic reactions

Dust mite: Is a microscopic arthropod of class arachnid that commonly dwell in house dust.

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