What To Know About Allergies And Throat Swelling
In most cases, allergies are not severe. This is because out body’s response to most allergens is a mild release of histamine by cells called Mast Cells. Histamine is what is responsible for sneezing, itchy watery eyes, having a scratchy throat, a runny nose, itchiness in the skin of the face, ears or other parts of the body.
These symptoms can be easily improved by taking allergy mediccations like antihistamines and decongestants, or undergoing allergy shots. However, now and again people have very severe allergic reactions, and if this is the case, they have to deal with throat swelling, which can be quite dangerous. It is important to identify the type of allergen that causes a reaction in order to avoid life threatening closure or swelling of the throat.
What causes allergic swelling of the throat?
Having an allergy to a variety of factors in the environment first involves an initial encounter between the body and the allergen (the factor that causes an allergy). For instance, only one to seven individuals out of a hundred stung by a bee will experience life threatening allergic responses. In prone individuals, the immune cells that interact with the bee sting venom for the first time produce a reaction that results in the formation of “memory cells” that remember Bee sting venom to be highly foreign and are “Sworn” to protect the body by mobilizing many other cells of the same type to fight it should it infiltrate the body defenses in the future. The initial encounter is usually mild but any time after that once the memory cells have been produced will result in a massive reaction with the exaggerated release of histamine. The over release of this chemical causes a severe drop in blood pressure, severe movement of fluid from the blood stream into the tissues causing life threatening swelling of tissues.
This type of response requires immediate medical attention because it can easily deteriorate into loss of consciousness, choking and death without treatment.
Swelling of the throat has a good chance to progressively worsen and close off the passage of air into the lungs.For a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), check the person’s airway, breathing, and circulation (the ABC’s of Basic Life Support). A warning sign of dangerous throat swelling is a very hoarse or whispered voice, or coarse sounds when the person is breathing in air.
- If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
- Call 911.
- Calm and reassure the person.
- If the allergic reaction is from a bee sting, scrape the stinger off the skin with something firm (such as a fingernail or plastic credit card). Do not use tweezers — squeezing the stinger will release more venom.
- If the person has emergency allergy medication on hand, help the person take or inject the medication. Avoid oral medication if the person is having difficulty breathing.
- Take steps to prevent shock. Have the person lie flat, raise the person’s feet about 12 inches, and cover him or her with a coat or blanket. Do NOT place the person in this position if a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected or if it causes discomfort.
- Do NOT assume that any allergy shots the person has already received will provide complete protection.
- Do NOT place a pillow under the person’s head if he or she is having trouble breathing. This can block the airways.
- Do NOT give the person anything by mouth if the person is having trouble breathing.
Call for immediate medical emergency assistance if:
- The person is having a severe allergic reaction — always call 911. Do not wait to see if the reaction is getting worse.
- The person has a history of severe allergic reactions (check for a medical ID tag).
Avoid triggers such as foods and medications that have caused an allergic reaction in the past. Ask detailed questions about ingredients when you are eating away from home. Carefully examine ingredient labels.
If you have a child who is allergic to certain foods, introduce one new food at a time in small amounts so you can recognize an allergic reaction.
People who know that they have had serious allergic reactions should wear a medical ID tag.
If you have a history of serious allergic reactions, carry emergency medications (such as a chewable form of Chlor-Trimeton and injectable epinephrine or a bee sting kit) according to your health care provider’s instructions.
Do not use your injectable epinephrine on anyone else. They may have a condition (such as a heart problem) that could be negatively affected by this drug.