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The Collaborative International Dictionary

anaphylactic shock \anaphylactic shock\ n. (Med.) a severe form of physiological shock, often having a fatal outcome, caused by an extreme immunological reaction to antigens. It is a severe form of anaphylaxis[2], and is characterized by smooth muscle contraction and capillary dilation throughout the body, initiated by antibodies of the IgE class. It is usually seen when an antigen to which a person has become hypersensitized is injected intravenously or subcutaneously. It is also called generalyzed anaphylaxis or systemic anaphylaxis, and sometimes anaphylaxis.


anaphylaxis \anaphylaxis\ n.

  1. [Gr. 'ana` back, way from + fy`laxis security, protection.]

    1. (Med.) hypersensitivity (to a protein or drug) resulting from prior contact with a substance.

  2. (Med.) an immediate but transient allergic reaction to an antigenic substance to which a person has become hypersensitized; it is characterized by the contraction of smooth muscle and capillary dilation. These reactions are caused by the release of certain substances such as histamine, bradykinin, serotonin, and slow-reacting substance in response to the reaction of the antigen with a mast cell-fixed antibody, chiefly IgE. This term is sometimes used to refer to the severe form of the reaction called anaphylactic shock.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

n. 1 Extreme sensitivity to a substance such as a foreign protein or drug. 2 A severe and rapid systemic allergic reaction to an allergen, causing a constriction of the trachea, preventing breathing; anaphylactic shock.


n. hypersensitivity reaction to the ingestion or injection of a substance (a protein or drug) resulting from prior contact with a substance


Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. It typically causes more than one of the following: an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure. These symptoms typically come on over minutes to hours.

Common causes include insect bites and stings, foods, and medications. Other causes include latex exposure and exercise. Additionally cases may occur without an obvious reason. The mechanism involves the release of mediators from certain types of white blood cells triggered by either immunologic or non-immunologic mechanisms. Diagnosis is based on the presenting symptoms and signs after exposure to a potential allergen.

The primary treatment of anaphylaxis is epinephrine injection into a muscle, intravenous fluids, and positioning the person flat. Additional doses of epinephrine may be required. Other measures, such as antihistamines and steroids, are complementary. Carrying an epinephrine autoinjector and identification regarding the condition is recommended in people with a history of anaphylaxis.

Worldwide, 0.05–2% of the population is estimated to experience anaphylaxis at some point in life. Rates appear to be increasing. It occurs most often in young people and females. Of people who go to a hospital with anaphylaxis in the United States about 0.3% die. The term comes from the , and the .

Anaphylaxis (film)

Anaphylaxis is a 2009 British art house feature film written and directed by Ayman Mokhtar and starring Guy Defferary, Katia Winter, Jenna Brook and Frazer Douglas. The story is about a doctor allergic to the human touch who finds his salvation in writings tattooed on the body of a dead poet. The film has a prosodic visual style, where shots follow certain durational rules to create a visual metrical rhythm (similar to that of poetry) for each scene in the film.

Usage examples of "anaphylaxis".

Sandy told me about a doctor down in southern California with an allergy to shellfish who recently died from anaphylaxis.