Anaphylaxis is a condition from the violent efforts of the body to rid itself of a substance, usually protein in nature, that has gained entrance to the blood stream, and to which the body is particular susceptible. It is characterized by hives, sometimes purging, vomiting, fever, and asthmatic and hay-fever-like attacks.
Causes of anaphylaxis
The body of some people response in an abnormal manner to certain substances to which they may be exposed to in the air they breathe, in the food they eat, or in something they may have brushed against. These same substances may be harmless to other members in the family. Such an individual is said to have an idiosyncrasy, or idiosyncrasies, — as the case maybe, — in that they are highly sensitive to the contact of the substance or substances for the symptoms manifested.
There are a variety of diseases which, in certain proportion of persons suffering from them, maybe directly attributed to such idiosyncrasies. Hay fever and asthma; acute gastrointestinal upsets, especially in children; eczema, hives and other forms of skin conditions. Maybe listed as prominent examples. Occasionally a single individual may suffer at different times from all these conditions. This could mean that the idiosyncrasy may actually be hereditary. For example, the male members of one family for four generations were subject to attacks following the eating of eggs.
Among the responsible agencies affecting these individuals, it could be pollens from plants, — ragweed, timothy, nasturtiums, and so forth. The emanation from cats, dogs, and horses, and from feathers in pillows, and the ingestion of such foods as milk, eggs, fish, and fowl, and in children, some of the cereals and butter, will give rise to a terrific upheaval.
Treatment for anaphylaxis
Stop all foods and administer a laxative. The itching may alleviated by a soda wash, or the application of a one percent carbolic acid solution. Those who suffer repeated attacks and are unaware of the causative factor — they should seek the immediate assistance of a medical doctor who by certain harmless and painless tests, may be able determine the cause, and in many cases, immunize against it in order to effect a cure.
Some persons have a very remarkable susceptibility to serums derived from horses; and as the material is used as the antitoxin in the treatment and prevention of diphtheria, attention should be called to this fact. Anyone who is known to have attacks of asthma triggered by horses should be handled with great care in the administration of antidiphtheritic serum or other serums. There have been fewer cases of death from this cause.