Question: What other diagnoses can resemble anaphylaxis?
Answer: There are a number of different diagnoses that need to be considered when a patient presents with symptoms consistent with anaphylaxis. But the most common causes of symptoms that are similar to anaphylaxis that confound the issue in the community are acute asthma attacks, acute hives -- so sudden-onset hives that can be generalized or involve large portion of the body -- fainting, vasovagal episode -- and a vasovagal episode is when a patient experiences a painful either physical or emotional stimulus and then faints -- or anxiety, panic attacks.
Oftentimes, patients who become anxious or panic breathe rapidly and hyperventilate. They become short of breath and often develop flushing. Occasionally, they develop vocal chord dysfunction, which is when the vocal chords close over the trachea and make it difficult to breathe, and this can look much like anaphylaxis. So although there are a number of different diagnoses that need to be considered, the most common that occur in the community are acute asthma attack, generalized hives, fainting, vasovagal responses, and anxiety or panic attacks.
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