What is an anaphylactic mishap

Severity levels of anaphylactic shock

An allergic reaction can be very different in its symptoms and also in its extent. The most common symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system. However, not all four areas have to be affected equally and the sequence, for example, whether the skin first and the cardiovascular system last, is not uniform.

In order to still be able to make a general diagnosis based on the symptoms present, a classification into the severity of anaphylactic reactions was verified in the “Guideline on acute therapy and management of anaphylaxis”.

I. Severity of anaphylactic shock

The guideline defines specific skin reactions such as redness, sensation of heat and itching as “skin and subjective general symptoms”. Some patients also feel a burning sensation in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and the genital area can also be affected. In addition, there are mild symptoms such as headache and dizziness, a metallic taste, anxiety and disorientation. All of these symptoms occur in the majority of cases of anaphylactic shock, even in severity grades II to IV.

II. Severity

If the symptoms of severity I are accompanied by slight shortness of breath and an accelerated heartbeat, anaphylactic shock of degree II is present. A sharp drop in blood pressure and involvement of the cardiovascular system, which can manifest itself in cramps, nausea and vomiting, are also typical. In addition, there is a runny nose, hoarseness, palpitations and cardiac arrhythmias.

III. Severity of anaphylactic shock

An anaphylactic shock of the III. Grade combines the symptoms of Grade I and Grade II and is characterized in particular by cramping of the airway muscles, so-called bronchospasm. Some patients also develop a swelling of the larynx, so-called Quincke's edema, which leads to shortness of breath. A blue discoloration of the skin is a typical sign of severity III. In addition to violent vomiting, uncontrollable defecation can also occur. The patients go into shock of the cardiovascular system.

IV. Severity

Grade IV anaphylactic shock is an acute emergency. The symptoms of severity III result in a circulatory collapse, which can lead to respiratory and circulatory arrest.

Sabrina Almond