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Acute Care Advisor 2016.4 Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.

What is a severe allergic reaction?

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An allergic reaction is your body’s reaction to a substance that is normally harmless. A substance that triggers your allergy is called an allergen. Allergens can include foods, insect stings or bites, medicines, chemicals, pollen, dust, pet dander, smoke, or other things in your environment.

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Symptoms of an allergic reaction usually start within minutes to several hours after contact with the allergen. Allergic reactions can be mild to severe. A severe allergic reaction can be life threatening. You may have severe swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or eyelids; itching; skin rash (such as hives or blisters); or trouble breathing. Your blood vessels may leak fluid into the area around them. This can make your blood pressure drop suddenly and cause you to go into shock. The medical term for a severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

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