What is it like to see someone having an anaphylactic shock?


We have asked Cambridge University graduate and Doctor from an NHS London hospital, to provide us with a medically accurate and objective discription of what happens when someone goes into anaphylactic shock.

All this can happen in a matter of moments. 


"Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. The true seriousness of allergies and the potential of all allergies to result in this emergency scenario, is often underappreciated by the public body.

Triggers of allergic reactions include foods such as nuts, shellfish and milk; medications; and insect stings. The immune system mistakes these harmless items as harmful or dangerous and so mounts a reaction in defence, releasing a flood of chemicals into the blood system. Initially, these chemicals affect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. In the former, the chemicals result in the small blood vessels of the body dilating and becoming increasingly leaky, ultimately resulting in a rapid drop in blood pressure. This presents with a rising heart rate and decreasing level of consciousness. Regarding the respiratory system, classic early symptoms include wheezing, hoarseness and swelling around the mouth and throat (angioedema). Breathing becomes increasingly difficult as the airway becomes more obstructed and a particularly distressing noise known as stridor is heard. The breathing system eventually begins to fail as the breath becomes shorter and faster and the skin turns a bluish colour (cyanosis).

Once one body system begins to fail other systems follow, in a domino-like effect due to the huge co-dependence human physiology requires. The body shuts down and without emergency treatment enters a state of shock. In shock, the body is no longer able to perfuse the major organs, particularly the brain, leading to loss of consciousness, coma and ultimately death.

A campaign into public awareness of allergies; prevention, recognition and response, holds the key to tackling the rates of serious harm brought about by allergies in the UK."

Would you really like a packet of nuts while you
watch this happen to someone on an aeroplane seat near you?