Anaphylaxis is an acute systemic (whole body) type of allergic reaction which occurs when a person has become sensitized to a certain substance or allergen and is again exposed to the allergen. Some drugs, such as those used for pain relief or for X-rays, may cause an anaphylactoid reaction on first exposure. Histamines and other substances released into the bloodstream cause blood vessels to dilate and tissues to swell. Anaphylaxis may be life-threatening if obstruction of the airway occurs, if blood pressure drops, or if heart arrhythmias occur.
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