Which physical findings are characteristic of anaphylaxis?

Updated: May 16, 2018
  • Author: S Shahzad Mustafa, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Answer

Examination may reveal the following findings:

  • General appearance and vital signs: Vary according to the severity of the anaphylactic episode and the organ system(s) affected; patients are commonly restless and anxious

  • Respiratory findings: Severe angioedema of the tongue and lips; tachypnea; stridor or severe air hunger; loss of voice, hoarseness, and/or dysphonia; wheezing

  • Cardiovascular: Tachycardia, hypotension; cardiovascular collapse and shock can occur immediately, without any other findings

  • Neurologic: Altered mentation; depressed level of consciousness or may be agitated and/or combative

  • Dermatologic: Classic skin manifestation is urticaria (ie, hives) anywhere on the body; angioedema (soft-tissue swelling); generalized (whole-body) erythema (or flushing) without urticaria or angioedema

  • Gastrointestinal: Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal distention


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