What causes anaphylaxis?

Also known as: anaphylactic shock, anaphylaxis shock, anaphylactic reaction.

Anaphylaxis is an acute life threatening allergic reaction with symptoms from many body systems.

What causes anaphylaxis? 

When the body’s immune system responds to a foreign substance in a previously sensitized child, it does so by rapidly releasing a variety of inflammatory and other chemicals (histamines, tryptase, heparin, prostaglandins, leukotrienes, cytokines and platelet-activating factor) from a blood cells called mast cells and basophils.

In anaphylaxis, these substances commonly give rise to abnormalities of the skin, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels), respiratory (airways and lungs) and gastrointestinal (gut) systems.

In children food allergies (like milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts,  sea foods, preservatives in food, medications (antibiotics and preservatives), insect stings, blood/ blood products and others are common causes of anaphylaxis. Sometimes no cause is found. Environmental triggers like dust mites, pollens and molds are not usual causes of anaphylaxis.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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