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Ask the dentist: All dental teams now trained to deal with severe allergic reactions

Anaphylactic shock can result from allergies to everything from certain foods to latex and even a sexual partner's antibiotics, writes Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care in Belfast

Peanuts can be highly dangerous to anyone with a severe allergy
Lucy Stock

WITH the rise in allergies in recent decades all dental teams are now trained to deal with a patient if they are unfortunate enough to suffer a severe allergic reaction in the dental surgery.

A staggering 44 per cent of UK adults now suffer from at least one allergy. People who suffer from a severe allergy can have a reaction called anaphylaxis. In the 20 years to 2012 there was a 615 per cent increase in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK.

It is a serious situation and can be life-threatening. The most common anaphylactic reactions are due to foods, insect stings, medications and latex.

Anaphylaxis is triggered when the immune system overreacts to a usually harmless substance (an allergen such as peanut or penicillin), causing mild to severe symptoms that affect various parts of the body. Symptoms usually appear within minutes to a few hours after eating a food, swallowing medication, rinsing with mouthwash or being touched by a latex glove.

There is a recent case report of a possible situation where a woman suffered an anaphylaxis attack thought to have been triggered by an instance of oral sexual contact with a man who was taking amoxicillin antibiotic medication. To the author's knowledge this is the first reported case of a suspicion of amoxicillin-induced anaphylaxis in a woman after a sexual contact with a man who was taking the drug.

The most dangerous symptoms of anaphylaxis are low blood pressure, breathing difficulty and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal. If you or anyone you are with begin to have an allergic reaction, call 999 straight away.

Immediate treatment is required including an adrenaline injection which people with severe allergies often carry in the form of an Epipen. The Epipen injection needs to be given in a certain way – it's very important to read the instructions before giving this injection.

Sometimes symptoms go away and then return a few hours later, so it is essential to take steps as soon as an anaphylactic reaction begins and to remain under medical observation for as long as necessary. A referral to an allergist after the episode can help with follow-up care.

Be Aware Anaphylaxis Symptoms:

:: Skin rashes and itching and hives

:: Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat

:: Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing (whistling sound during breathing)

:: Dizziness and/or fainting

:: Stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhoea

:: Feeling like something awful is about to happen.

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