Knowing what allergens trigger your throat to swell, will help you avoid a life-threatening allergic condition, called anaphylaxis. Throat swelling allergies are a common sign of anaphylaxis, a severe allergy that affects your entire body. Any allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis, but some are more common than others, such as insect stings, certain food allergies and medications. Call 911 if you develop swelling in your throat.
Any substance that triggers your immune system to produce immunoglobulin E antibodies is considered an allergen. Allergens are harmless to most people, but could cause minor to severe symptoms in some people. While most allergic reactions cause minor symptoms, a severe allergic reaction could cause death. Common allergens associated with throat swelling include penicillin, aspirin, peanuts, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, milk, eggs and stings from fire ants, wasps, hornets and bees, according to MayoClinic.com. Some people can develop throat swelling from a latex allergy, by exercising and using muscle relaxants.
Throat Swelling Cause
Your throat swells during a severe allergic reaction because of increased levels of histamine, IgE antibodies and other chemicals released in soft tissues throughout the body. Because your immune system reacts as if it's under attack, a flood of chemicals attempt to fight off the allergen, but consequently cause inflammation and swelling throughout your body. Your lungs may become constricted and the lining of your esophagus becomes swollen, which can cut off your ability to breath or swallow. Throat swelling may cause wheezing, a high-pitched whistling noise created by restricted airflow.
Along with your throat swelling, other symptoms may develop rapidly. Most symptoms of anaphylaxis develop within a few seconds after the allergen enters your body. Other symptoms associated with this type of allergic reaction include wheezing, shortness of breath, hoarse voice, chest pain, nasal congestion, hives, skin warmth, rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pale colored skin, low pulse, dizziness, low blood pressure, anxiety, headache and stomach pain, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Avoidance and Treatment
Your doctor will recommend that you see an allergist to perform tests and diagnose which substances cause anaphylaxis in your body. The only way to prevent a severe allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen. Some allergies, such as insect bites and airborne allergens may be treated with allergy shots, which work to desensitize your immune system to the substance. Throat swelling caused by an allergic reaction may need to be treated with an injection of epinephrine. If you have a known severe allergy, your doctor may prescribe this medication for you to carry at all times.