Have you heard how even a single peanut can trigger a severe allergic reaction? The reaction is called “anaphylaxis,” and peanuts are not the only triggers. In fact, many common substances, including drugs you probably have in your medicine cabinet right now, can trigger the reaction.


Anaphylaxis is an acute and potentially deadly systemic allergic reaction. It can lead to death if not treated right away.


When a person has an anaphylactic reaction, the immune system overreacts to the allergen, releasing a flood of chemicals that cause the patient to go into shock: blood pressure plummets and the airways narrow, blocking breathing. The reaction can cause death by stopping the patient’s breathing or heartbeat.


One danger of anaphylaxis is that it may be triggered by everyday things, especially foods, medications, latex, and insect stings. Food triggers include peanuts, other nuts, sesame, fish, and shellfish. This explains why many schools around the country have banned peanuts.


Another danger of anaphylaxis is that it occurs after multiple exposures to the allergen. So one day, you may eat a peanut or take an antibiotic with only a mild allergic reaction or no reaction at all. Still, on a later day, the peanut or antibiotic may trigger an extreme allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis.


This is why known allergies must be taken very seriously—by patients and their healthcare providers. Here’s how to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.


Bell Law Firm represents clients who have suffered death or catastrophic injury in medical malpractice and other personal injury cases.