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Allergic Reactions

Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis An allergic reaction usually happens within minutes after being exposed to an allergen, but sometimes it can take place several hours after exposure. A reaction can involve any of these symptoms, and a person could have one or more of these symptoms regardless of the allergen: Skin system: hives, swelling, itching, warmth, redness, rash Respiratory system (breathing): coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion or hay fever-like symptoms (runny itchy nose and watery eyes, sneezing), trouble swallowing Gastrointestinal system (stomach): nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting, diarrhea Cardiovascular system (heart): pale/blue colour, weak pulse, passing out, dizzy/lightheaded, shock Other: anxiety, feeling of “impending doom”, headache, uterine cramps, metallic taste The most dangerous symptoms of an allergic reaction are: Trouble breathing caused by swelling of the airways (including a severe asthma attack for people who have asthma) A drop in blood pressure causing dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or weak, or passing out. Both can lead to death if untreated.

Food Allergens

People can be allergic to any food, but some allergies are more common than others. The following foods are listed as Priority Allergens by Health Canada, and have specific labelling requirements established by Health Canada.

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Non-Food Allergens

n addition to food, anaphylaxis can be caused by medication, insect stings, latex, exercise, or unknown reasons (“idiopathic”). Medication An allergy to medication happens when your immune system reacts to the drug. Any drug can cause a reaction. Learn more Insect Stings The most common sources of allergy from insect stings are honeybees, bumblebees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, or fire ants. Insect allergy can start at any age in life. Learn more Latex Some people are allergic to latex. For these people, allergic reactions can be caused by exposure to latex products or inhaling airborne latex particles. SKIN ALLERGY: Bumps, itching, redness and other skin conditions are very common, and their cause may not be easily identifiable. Rashes can be caused by many things, including plants (poison ivy, for example), allergic reactions to a medication or a food, or an illness (measles or chickenpox, for example). Eczema and hives, both of which are related to allergies, are two of the most common skin rashes. DUST ALLERGY Dust allergies also make it difficult to breathe and may trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Dust also just makes some people itchy. People with dust allergies often suffer the most inside their own homes or in other people’s homes. Oddly enough, their symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. The process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale. Dust Allergy Symptoms Sneezing Runny or stuffy nose Red, itchy or teary eyes Wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath Itching Dust Allergy Triggers Dust mites Cockroaches Mold Pollen Pet hair, fur or feathers

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Insect Sting Allergy

Insect stings typically result in pain, swelling and redness confined to the sting site. More severe reactions include symptoms appearing over a wider area (for example, swelling of your whole arm if you were stung on your wrist) or affecting other parts of the body from where the sting occurred. Allergic reactions to stings can occur even after many normal reactions to stings and at any age. It has been estimated that potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to insect venom occur in 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent of children and 3 percent of adults. Insect sting reactions account for at least 40 deaths each year in the United States. The majority of insect stings in the United States come from wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and bees. The red or black imported fire ant now infests more than 260 million acres in the southern United States, where it has become a significant health hazard and may be the number one agent of insect stings. While there are native fire ant species, the species that causes the most problems for us were accidentally imported to the United Stated from South America.

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