Allergy Attacks: When Urgent Care is NeededJesup, GA
Allergic reactions can be a frightening experience for you or your loved ones, especially if you’ve never had the unpleasant experience of going through them before. They can cause a variety of symptoms depending on the type of allergy attack, and these symptoms can range from minor annoyances to severe, life-threatening situations. Due to this wide-ranging spectrum of allergic reactions, there are many evaluations and treatments that may be necessary.
Here, you will learn how to identify what an allergic reaction or an allergic attack might look like or feel like. Additionally, you can read about what our healthcare professionals can do at our urgent care center to provide you with the best and most efficient solution to this stressful and worrisome experience.
What are the different types of allergies?
Seasonal allergy is the type of allergy that usually, like the name suggests, corresponds with a particular season (typically spring or winter). You may be familiar with this type and associate it with an increase in pollen in the air. Symptoms usually include sneezing/coughing, congestion, watery eyes, and itchiness.
Food allergy is the type of allergic response that occurs after eating a specific food or drink. This can cause a variety of symptoms that we will discuss below.
Drug allergy is when your immune system is sensitive to a specific drug (like penicillin) and can cause symptoms like nausea, difficulty breathing, and dizziness.
Insect sting allergy is an allergy to the venom that bees and other insects in that family inject into your body when they sting you. It can be a painful and scary process with severe symptoms like swelling, difficulty breathing, and itchiness.
For the purposes of this article, we will mainly talk about food allergy. While it has many similarities to other allergic triggers (medicines, insect stings, pollen), there are some differences, so be sure to keep that in mind.
What does an allergic reaction or attack feel like?
After you accidentally consume a food or drink you are allergic to, the body can have a rapid reaction starting anywhere from minutes to hours after consumption. This will usually involve extreme itching and swelling of the face, tongue, throat and/or rest of the body. If you have asthma, your allergic reaction can make that worse as well.
Your allergic reaction can also affect your stomach and other parts of your digestive system. These symptoms can include nausea, stomach pain, stomach cramping, vomiting and/or diarrhea. These symptoms are also rapid and can occur anywhere from minutes to hours after consumption.
The most serious reaction is something called “anaphylaxis,” which is a combination of symptoms including wheezing/gasping, hives, swelling and/or stomach problems. This constellation of symptoms can have an extreme effect on your body that can lead to dangerously low blood pressure, heart problems, and death. There is even a special type of anaphylaxis that only happens after exercise or hard work several hours after eating the food/drink.
What can an urgent care physician do to evaluate or diagnose my allergic reaction?
Your urgent care physician will do a quick evaluation to assess whether or not your life is in danger. He/she will focus on your airway and your ability to breathe, making sure to look out for the dangerously characteristic swelling seen in vital areas like the lips, tongue and throat. He will also see if you have any of the skin symptoms like itchiness, redness or swelling.
If your life is not in danger, then your physician will make sure you are safe before continuing on to determine what might have caused your allergic reaction. They will get some blood from you in order to run some labs to get more data about your reaction. They will also ask you in detail about the previous 24-hour period before your symptoms started, especially the one to two hours immediately before. This important information includes:
- Exposures – Any substance that you could have eaten or injected or somehow might have come into contact with your body
- Timing – The time between the substance and the beginning of your symptoms
- Physical activity and environment – Anaphylaxis can be caused by extreme heat or cold as well as any physical activity or exercise
Remember to keep these things in mind and try your best to give your physician an accurate picture of the previous day so he can make a proper diagnosis.
What can an urgent care physician do to treat my allergic reaction?
If it is an emergency and your life is determined to be in danger due to an allergic reaction, your urgent care physician will administer epinephrine, the same medicine used in “Epi-pens” that you may be familiar with. Because breathing and the amount of oxygen you are receiving is critical, he/she may give you some oxygen through a breathing mask. In addition, you are likely to receive an IV for quick access to medications and fluids.
If your allergic reaction is less severe, then he will try to treat the symptoms with a variety of medications specific for those symptoms. For itchiness of the skin, they may prescribe a topical cream or ointment that will relieve your symptoms. For other symptoms that cannot be treated topically, they may give you an oral or IV medication.
After your condition has been stabilized and your other less severe symptoms have been relieved, your physician will also be likely to refer you to an allergist to obtain more specialized testing so that you can know with utmost confidence what your allergic reaction was caused by.
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