Anaphylaxis is a very serious condition in which many different systems in the body are simultaneously involved during an allergic reaction.
It occurs when the individual comes into contact with an allergen such as latex, insect bites, certain drugs or foods.
About 35 to 55 percent of all anaphylactic reactions result from food allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
The most common symptoms of anaphylaxis start with the skin, explained Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, a pediatric allergist and national expert in anaphylaxis.
For example, an individual may have hives, redness of the skin and itching. Other symptoms can occur with anaphylaxis, including shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and lightheadedness.
Food Network star, food writer and nutritionist Robin Miller discovered that she had a severe egg allergy in the third grade.
Because she had nausea and vomiting only on weekdays, which is when her mother made eggs for breakfast, it was originally thought that her symptoms were due to motion sickness from the bus or from not wanting to go to school, rather than a food allergy.
Since discovering her symptoms were due to an egg allergy, Robin learned to avoid foods made with eggs and to identify things that could be potential hazards. Her allergy has taught her to cook in a different way and become more caring about people with food allergies.
But if individuals do come into contact with their trigger such as from food cross-contamination, an epinephrine auto-injector can save their lives.
But as Dr. Hernandez-Trujillo, who is also at risk for anaphylaxis, noted, two-thirds of individuals at risk for anaphylaxis do not carry an epinephrine auto-injector.
That startling statistic was one of the reasons that Robin became involved in the Auvi-Q Anaphylaxis Awareness Campaign, which increases awareness on anaphylaxis and promotes Auvi-Q, a new epinephrine auto-injector.
Auvi-Q is smaller than other epinephrine auto-injectors. It is 3.5 inches by 2 inches, or the thickness or a smart phone and size of a credit card.