Allergic Emergencies: Epinephrine, the Drug of Choice in Anaphylaxis

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2013.0516-0521

german translation / full article

Arthur Helbling, Michael Fricker, Urs Steiner, Lukas Jörg

Keywords: Allergy Anaphylaxis Emergency Therapy Epinephrine Allergological Work-Up

Summary: Although allergic emergencies do not occur every day, they are as unpredictable as the course of the reaction, and require rapid treatment. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening general reaction that usually manifests within a few minutes after a known or potential antigen contact. While sole cutaneous symptoms are not sufficient to diagnose anaphylaxis, an episode of acute bronchospasm or hypotension in rare cases may be the only symptom. Almost always two or more organ systems are affected and usually the skin and/or mucous membranes are involved. Epinephrine (adrenaline) is the most important and effective drug in the treatment of anaphylaxis. Since there is no absolute contraindication, epinephrine should be administered intramuscularly at the first signs of anaphylaxis. However, there is a gap between the international treatment guidelines and the daily practice in the treatment of acute allergic, particularly anaphylactic, reactions. This is due not least to the fact that anaphylaxis, the most severe form of allergy, is not sufficiently clear or uniformly defined. After a systemic allergic reaction, all patients should be equipped with emergency medications, appropriately instructed obtain a complete allergy work-up.

(State: 07.01.2014)

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