I.V. ROUNDS: Handling a Type I hypersensitivity reaction

April 2008 
Volume 38  Number 4
Pages 60 - 60
  PDF Version Available!

BY DEFINITION, a hypersensitivity reaction involves an excessive or inappropriate activation of the immune system. 1 This article focuses on Type I immediate hypersensitivity reactions, which can be triggered by administration of certain I.V. drugs. These reactions range from mild local signs and symptoms to life-threatening anaphylaxis, a systemic immune response. Among I.V. drugs, the most common culprits are antibiotics and contrast media. (For details on the four types of hypersensitivity reactions, see Out of control .)

Anaphylaxis, the most severe immediate hypersensitivity reaction, usually occurs within minutes of exposure to the antigen. Signs and symptoms can be grouped by organ system, as follows:

* Respiratory: Nasal congestion, stridor, ...

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