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How do allergies or anaphylaxis occur?

step1

The immune system sees a substance that is usually harmless as a threat and it becomes a ‘trigger’ for an allergic reaction.

step2

The trigger attaches to a specific type of cell in the body that is full of powerful chemicals, such as histamine.

step3

The trigger causes the cell to burst open releasing the chemicals inside. These substances then cause the symptoms of allergy, such as swelling, itching, etc. The greater the amount of chemicals released, the more severe the allergic reaction.

Treating a reaction

When you have an allergic reaction your body naturally releases adrenaline to help reverse the effects of the substances that your immune cells released in response to the trigger.  However, if you have an anaphylactic reaction your body usually cannot release enough adrenaline so many people at risk of anaphylaxis carry an adrenaline auto-injector with them. When this “extra adrenaline” is injected it helps to alleviate wheezing and shortness of breath, maintains your blood pressure so you don’t faint and many other effects to help reverse the anaphylactic reaction.