The Allergy Mom® Melissa Scheichl Provides Education and Support

Melissa Scheichl

Growing up Melissa Scheichl (aka The Allergy Mom®) of the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada, had both seasonal and food allergies and her mother suffered a dangerous anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. As challenging and scary as these experiences were, however, allergies did not become a major focus of her life until her children were born almost 16 and 14 years ago.  
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What are the symptoms of an anaphylactic attack?

Just like symptoms can vary in severity, they can also differ in presentation.  Skin is most often affected with feelings of itching, tingling, warmth and/or hives.  Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth and throat and other respiratory symptoms are also relatively common.

Gastrointestinal issues including cramping, vomiting and diarrhea can occur in anywhere from one-third to almost half of anaphylactic patients.  Very serious symptoms such as a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and difficulty breathing are rare but need to be addressed immediately.  Don’t wait to see what happens—call 911.

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Good to Know

leafbulletSymptoms can begin immediately or up to several hours after the exposure.

leafbulletReactions can worsen over time and with repeated exposure.

leafbulletGenerally speaking, the faster the reaction happens the more severe it may be.

leafbulletSome people can have a late phase reaction—both an immediate response to exposure and a second attack up to 2 to 24 hours later (without re-exposure).

 

Who is at risk for an anaphylactic attack?

Anyone can become a victim of anaphylaxis after they have been exposed once before to the allergen.  In other words, the first time a susceptible person eats peanuts or is stung by a stinging insect little or no reaction may result.  However, following the first exposure the body builds up a sensitization so that the next ingestion of peanuts or encounter with insect venom can result in a full-fledged anaphylactic attack.

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Good to Know

leafbulletPeople don’t always realize or remember they have had that initial exposure, so don’t automatically assume no reaction will occur.

leafbulletIndividuals who have had an anaphylactic reaction before are definitely at risk for another on the next exposure.  There’s no way to predict if it will be the same or more severe, so take it seriously and be on guard.

 

Why does anaphylaxis develop and how?

This is what an attack of anaphylaxis looks like at the cellular-molecular level

Anaphylactic shock is an exaggerated allergic response. Immune cells such as B cells, plasma cells, mast cells, basophils, and antibodies participate in anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis generally occurs in two steps – the first exposure to an allergen results in sensitization, with subsequent exposures potentially resulting in an allergic reaction and anaphylaxis.

 Illustration of anaphylactic attack

 

 

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