Eastside Medical Associates

Amy Lichtenfeld, MD

Board Certified Allergist-Immunologist & Internist located in Manhattan, New York, NY

Most allergic reactions cause mild to moderate symptoms — such as a runny nose — but sometimes a life-threatening allergic response known as anaphylaxis occurs. Upper East Side, New York City allergist-immunologist and internal medicine physician Dr. Amy Lichtenfeld, helps teenagers through adults prevent and prepare for anaphylaxis at Eastside Medical Associates. To learn more about your risk for anaphylaxis, call or book an appointment online.

Anaphylaxis Q & A

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that most commonly occurs in response to foods, medications, latex, and insect stings.

While most allergic reactions cause symptoms in one area of your body — such as a skin rash or watery eyes — anaphylaxis typically affects multiple parts of your body at once. This severe reaction occurs when your body releases a wave of chemicals that send you into a state of shock.

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. If you see someone going into anaphylaxis, call 911 and get to the nearest emergency medical facility right away.

Even if you’ve already administered emergency epinephrine and the symptoms begin to subside, seek emergency medical care. The second wave of anaphylaxis can occur within 12 hours after the first.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis symptoms come on suddenly and worsen quickly. Common symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives or swelling
  • Throat tightness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Feeling of doom
  • Cardiac arrest

Even if your first anaphylactic reaction is mild, future reactions may be more severe.

Who is at risk of anaphylaxis?

If you’ve had an anaphylactic reaction in the past, you’re more susceptible to having another in the future. Other factors that may increase your risk of anaphylaxis include:

  • Having allergies or asthma
  • A family history of anaphylaxis
  • Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease

Even if you’ve never had a severe anaphylactic reaction in the past, it’s important to be prepared for one if you’re at high risk.

How do you manage and treat anaphylaxis?

The first step in managing anaphylaxis is understanding what triggers your reaction. Dr. Lichtenfeld performs accurate allergy testing to identify the specific allergens that cause anaphylaxis.

Common anaphylaxis triggers include:

  • Foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish, milk, and eggs
  • Medications such as penicillin, aspirin, and ibuprofen
  • Insect stings from bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants
  • Latex

Once she determines the cause of your allergic reaction, Dr. Lichtenfeld works with you to develop a plan to prevent and prepare for future occurrences of anaphylaxis. This may include:

  • Avoiding trigger allergens
  • Carrying an emergency epinephrine auto-injector
  • Informing family and friends of how to handle anaphylaxis

For more information on treating anaphylaxis, call Dr. Amy Lichtenfeld or book an appointment online.