Terms used in this guideline
Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening, generalised or systemic hypersensitivity reaction. It is characterised by rapidly developing, life-threatening problems involving: the airway (pharyngeal or laryngeal oedema) and/or breathing (bronchospasm with tachypnoea) and/or circulation (hypotension and/or tachycardia). In most cases, there are associated skin and mucosal changes.
In emergency departments a person who presents with the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis may be classified as having a 'severe allergic' reaction rather than an 'anaphylactic' reaction. Throughout this guideline, anyone who presents with such signs and symptoms is classed as experiencing a 'suspected anaphylactic reaction', and should be diagnosed as having 'suspected anaphylaxis'.
Please see the NICE glossary for an explanation of terms not described above.