What Are The Signs Of A Severe Allergic Reaction?

Most of us have suffered from allergies at one point or another in our lives. While the majority of people experience only mild to moderate symptoms associated with environmental allergies or acute conditions, some men, women, and children respond to certain allergens with a severe reaction. In fact, allergic reactions can even be fatal in extreme cases, particularly when prompt treatment is not administered. The expert team of board-certified emergency room physicians and professional staff at iCare ER & Urgent Care in Fort Worth and Frisco, TX is committed to providing rapid, thorough, and effective treatment for a full range of allergy-related conditions, from acute or chronic sinus infection to severe allergic reaction. To better understand when ER treatment may be appropriate, use this helpful information about identifying the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.


What causes severe allergic reactions?

There are a variety of triggers that can cause a mild allergic reaction, which is the body’s way of responding to a potentially harmful foreign substance. While most people’s immune systems are capable of fighting off the substance appropriately, some patients’ bodies may respond disproportionately, leading to a severe allergic reaction. Common allergens that may produce mild to severe allergic reactions include:


  • Environmental/seasonal allergies: pollen, dust, grass, etc.
  • Food allergies: shellfish, eggs, dairy, soy, nuts, sulfites, fruits, honey, etc.
  • Animal allergies: pet dander
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Chemical allergies: perfumes, detergents, dyes, cleaning agents, topical creams, etc.
  • Medication allergies: penicillin, certain antibiotics, etc.
  • Sinus infection: a bacterial or fungal infection that causes swelling and pain in the sinus cavities


In some cases, an allergic reaction may worsen with repeat exposure to the allergen. For example, children with nut allergies may experience only a moderate reaction initially and, ultimately, develop a much more severe allergy that can become life-threatening. If you or your child experience any symptoms that you think may be related to an allergen, it is important to seek treatment and allergy testing to prevent a more serious allergic reaction in the future.


When do I need to go to the ER for an allergic reaction?

Understanding the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can help save your life or another person’s life. Common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include:


  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Swelling in the throat, lips, and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness


The most severe form of allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which progresses rapidly and can be fatal, making immediate treatment critical. Symptoms and signs of anaphylaxis include cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory distress, seizure, and shock. Many patients with known severe allergies choose to carry an EpiPen® at all times. This epinephrine autoinjector can calm the symptoms of anaphylaxis and potentially save a patient’s life. Even after injection with an EpiPen, patients should still seek immediate treatment in the ER to ensure a complete recovery.


For any unexpected allergic reaction – and particularly one that causes frightening, painful, or debilitating symptoms, including restricted breathing – patients should seek immediate evaluation and treatment in the ER. Our knowledgeable physicians at iCare ER & Urgent Care will quickly and thoroughly assess your condition and determine if you need emergent treatment or can be seen in the urgent care side of our unique hybrid facility for a lesser fee.


How are allergic reactions treated?

The treatment for an allergic reaction will depend on a number of factors, including the responsible allergen, the severity of the reaction, the patient’s overall health, medical history, and others. In less severe cases, allergy shots, medications, or other therapies may be administered. For more severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, patients will likely require an epinephrine injection followed by additional treatment measures. Chronic conditions, such as sinusitis, may, ultimately, require surgery to prevent long-term complications.


Make sure you are prepared during a severe allergic reaction and know when to seek ER treatment in North Texas

A severe allergic reaction can occur without warning, progress rapidly, and potentially be fatal. Knowing what signs and symptoms to be aware of and seeking immediate treatment are two of the most important measures you can take to prevent serious complications associated with an allergic reaction. Whether you are suffering from mild allergy-related symptoms or are having a life-threatening allergic reaction, the board-certified emergency room physicians and professional staff at iCare ER & Urgent Care in Fort Worth and Frisco, TX are here to provide prompt attention, treatment, and care today.