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Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that affects the entire body (systemic). It can occur within a few seconds or minutes after a person is exposed to a substance (allergen or antigen).
Symptoms and signs of a severe allergic reaction may include:
The sooner symptoms occur after exposure to the substance, the more severe the anaphylactic reaction is likely to be. An anaphylactic reaction may occur with the first exposure to an allergen, with every exposure, or after several exposures. An anaphylactic reaction can be life-threatening and is a medical emergency. Emergency care is always needed for an anaphylactic reaction.
Last Revised: April 29, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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