Severe Allergy Trigger

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Severe allergy

There are many different triggers that can cause a severe allergic reaction:


The most common food allergens in Canada are:

<ul> <li><span>Peanuts</span></li> <li><span>Tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts)</span></li> <li><span>Sesame seeds</span></li> <li><span>Milk</span></li> <li><span>Eggs</span></li> </ul>
<ul> <li><span>Fish</span></li> <li><span>Crustaceans and molluscs</span></li> <li><span>Soy</span></li> <li><span>Wheat and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye grains)</span></li> <li><span>Mustard</span></li> </ul>
<p>These substances are often referred to as <strong>priority food allergens.</strong> People have been known to outgrow certain allergies, like milk and eggs, by school age. But peanut, tree nut, and shellfish allergies tend to be lifelong.</p> <p>Sulphites are food additives that do not cause true allergic reactions. However, they may elicit allergy-like symptoms in sulphite-sensitive individuals, so they are generally grouped with priority allergens.</p> <p>Health Canada regulations require food labels to include the common names of priority food allergens, gluten sources, and added sulphites.</p> <p>Not sure if you have a food allergy? <strong><nobr>Visit <a href=""></a> to find out more.</nobr></strong></p>
Insect stings and bites

The insects most likely to trigger severe allergic reactions belong to the Hymenoptera order, also known as stinging insects. Stinging insects inject venom when they sting the skin, which can cause a severe allergic reaction.

Stinging insects include:

  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Yellow jackets
  • Hornets
  • Ants, including the fire ant

Biting insects (e.g., mosquitoes, black flies) may also trigger severe allergic reactions.


A latex allergy is an allergic sensitivity to the proteins in natural rubber latex. Natural rubber latex comes from the milky sap of rubber trees and is used to make products such as:

<ul> <li><span>Gloves</span></li> <li><span>Condoms, diaphragms, and dental dams</span></li> <li><span>Adhesive bandages</span></li> <li><span>Medical equipment such as stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and tourniquets</span></li> <li><span>Elastic</span></li> </ul>
<ul> <li><span>Spandex</span></li> <li><span>Party balloons</span></li> </ul>
<p>There may also be an association between reactions to latex and some foods. If you are allergic to latex, you may also notice a reaction to banana, avocado, kiwi, or chestnut.</p>

Both prescription and non-prescription medication may cause an allergic reaction.

Penicillin and related antibiotics are the most common causes of a medication-related severe allergic reaction.

Other allergy-causing medication include:

  • Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Sulfa antibiotics
  • Insulin, especially those from animal sources
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Local anesthetics like Novocain

Some people experience a severe allergic reaction after they exercise, known as exercise-induced anaphylaxis.

Why exercise causes a reaction is unknown. However, it appears that some medications (such as aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or food consumed before and after exercise, have been associated with exercise-induced anaphylaxis.

It usually starts with skin symptoms such as itchiness, redness, and hives. If left untreated, it can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms as well as swelling of the throat.

Unknown causes

Sometimes a severe allergic reaction can occur without a known cause. This is called idiopathic anaphylaxis.

As with other types of severe allergic reactions, symptoms include hives or skin swelling, wheezing, difficulty breathing, nausea, light-headedness, and fainting. However, most people don’t experience all these symptoms at once.

You should always avoid allergy triggers, but in case of an emergency, you can be prepared by carrying EpiPen® with you at all times.

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