Severe Allergic Reactions


An allergic reaction is not only inconvenient, but it can be life-threatening without immediate medical treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, then it is essential to visit the nearest ER as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a Severe Allergic Reaction

It is common for people to have mild allergic reactions due to seasonal pollen or animals. In some cases, a patient has a strong reaction to an environmental compound. Symptoms might include difficulty breathing, dizziness, chest tightness, hives, wheezing, increased pulse rate, swelling in the throat, lips, tongue, or face, diarrhea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of an allergic reaction and can be life-threatening if it blocks a person’s ability to breathe. This reaction is rare and requires immediate medical services. The symptoms usually start suddenly and intensify quickly, eventually leading to cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory distress, seizures, shock, and even death… which is why treatment should never be delayed.

What Happens During an Allergic Reaction?

When these symptoms are occurring, it means the body is overreacting to a substance and an attack is happening within the body. An allergen can be any product or compound that causes an immune system response. Common allergens include:

  • Insect stings, from wasps, bees, hornets, or fire ants
  • Latex
  • Food ingredients, such as peanuts, soy, eggs, fish, milk, or wheat
  • Medications, such as penicillin or other antibiotics

Why do some people suffering allergies while others don’t experience these reactions? It is suspected that certain people are hypersensitive because of genetic predispositions.

Immediate ER Treatment for Severe Allergic Reactions

When someone knows that they have a severe allergy, it is common to carry an epinephrine autoinjector (often called an “epi-pen”). Having this medication on-hand can save a person’s life if they are exposed to an allergy trigger. This injection provides the first aid that is needed, giving the person more time to get to medical treatment. It is always important to talk to a doctor, even if an injection is used, and the symptoms are starting to calm down.

If you are having the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction and don’t have an epi-pen, then it is essential to either call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room right away for immediate treatment.

Initially, medications will be administered to counteract the allergic reaction. The doctor will likely recommend additional testing to identify your allergy triggers. It is important to know what is causing the symptoms if you experience a serious allergy response to food or something in the environment. Then, you can avoid the trigger to minimize the risk of an allergy emergency in the future.


People can experience a vast range of allergic reactions, from mild to severe. When you come into iCare, our team of physicians will determine whether your reaction should be treated in our urgent care or in the emergency room.

Mild symptoms often include sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, a rash, a runny nose, nasal congestion, or slight swelling. More severe symptoms can include the above reactions, combined with a tingling in the mouth, intense swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat, nausea and vomiting, chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, stomach pain, diarrhea, or vasodilation. For severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, this usually involves an epinephrine injection to relax the muscles in order to allow you to breathe. For less severe allergic reactions, treatment can involve allergy shots — usually for allergic asthma, insect stings, hay fever or other medications.


After reviewing your medical history and performing a physical exam, our physicians will treat your symptoms.

While some forms of sinusitis and allergies are mild enough to handle at home, some require that you come into the iCare center for treatment. If a sinus infection lasts longer than 8 weeks, you should seek medical treatment, as some sinus infections can spread to the bones or, in severe, life-threatening cases, to the brain. If drug therapy has failed to reduce your sinus infection, our team can help to determine if sinus surgery is necessary with lab tests in our CLIA/COLA-certified laboratory.

For allergies, sudden and severe symptoms should be treated immediately at iCare, especially if these symptoms include difficulty breathing. Most often, we will treat severe allergic reactions in our 24/7 emergency room. For milder reactions, our team can help identify the cause of your allergies and treat the symptoms in urgent care.