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Is anaphylactic shock a complication of hives?

Paul M. Ehrlich, MD
Allergy & Immunology

No. You can certainly break out in hives without the life-threatening experiences of anaphylaxis. Hives are one of the symptoms of food allergy and certain other triggers, but anaphylaxis is generally defined as a combination of symptoms among two or more body systems, including the skin, the gut and the respiratory system. One of these symptoms can be widespread hives, but unless it's accompanied by difficulty breathing, vomiting, and others, it's not considered anaphylaxis.

For more on anaphylaxis, see the food allergy action plan at: http://www.foodallergy.org/files/FAAP.pdf.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Severe cases of hives can produce swelling inside the mouth or throat. Complications can include anaphylactic shock, a serious allergic reaction involving the heart and lungs. During anaphylactic shock, the bronchial tubes narrow, making it difficult to breathe. A drop in blood pressure can causes dizziness, loss of consciousness, and possibly death. The condition is serious, happens fast, and requires immediate medical attention. Consult a dermatologist or allergist for more information.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.