Diagnosing anaphylaxis

A diagnosis of anaphylaxis is assumed by assessing what symptoms you have. Delaying treatment until a diagnosis has been confirmed would be too dangerous.

As mentioned in the symptoms section a confident diagnosis of anaphylaxis can usually be assumed if you have symptoms that are simultaneously affecting your:

  • airways
  • blood
  • circulation (of your blood)
  • skin

Once you are well enough to leave hospital you may be referred to an allergy clinic to indentify what was the substance, known as an allergen, which triggered the anaphyalixs.

The most widely used test to do this is to this is known as a RAST test. A sample of blood is removed and small samples of allergen, such as tiny pieces of peanut or shellfish, can then be placed into the sample of blood.

If your blood suddenly produces a high number of antibodies in reaction to the allergen this would normally indicate you were allergic to the allergen.

The use of commercial allergy testing kits is not recommended. These tests are often of a lower standard than those provided by the NHS or accredited private clinics and they could trigger unpleasant symptoms such as a severe skin rash.

Also, allergy tests should be interpreted by a qualified professional who has detailed knowledge of your symptoms and medical history.



Blood tests

During a blood test, a sample of blood is taken from a vein using a needle so it can be examined in a laboratory.

Last updated: 09 March 2012

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