If You Have Asthma, Be on the Watch for Allergic Shock

  • This isn't to scare you — only to prepare you. According to a new book by Harvard Health, if you have asthma, you are more likely to have a severe allergic reaction.


    Allergic shock, or anaphylaxis, can occur whenever you come into contact with things to which you are allergic. However, this severe reaction is much more likely in relation to certain allergens, especially peanuts and tree nuts. For some people, stinging insects, such as bees and wasps, can also produce anaphylaxis.


    If your body responds to an allergen with an allergic shock reaction, it can affect your entire body. Also, the reactions may range from mild or moderate to life-threatening. In fact, as many as 500 to 1,000 people in the U.S. die each year from allergic shock.

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    That's why allergic shock is something to take seriously, especially if you know you are allergic to nuts or stinging insects and you also have asthma.

    Early symptoms of allergic shock include:

    • feeling flushed
    • sneezing
    • itching
    • hives
    • nasal congestion
    • watery red eyes

    Most of those symptoms are nothing more than bothersome, but your situation can quickly deteriorate into life-threatening if you start to have any of the following symptoms:

    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of the throat and tongue
    • a drop in blood pressure
    • fainting
    • shock

    If you start to have any of the symptoms described above, it is essential to seek treatment right away.


    It's also a good idea to carry an Epi-Pen or similar injectable epinephrine device if you know you have both asthma and a food or insect allergy. Your doctor can give you more information about that treatment.

Published On: June 19, 2007