Differential Diagnosis

There is an overlap between the symptoms of anaphylactic shock and other medical conditions.  Table 3 describes conditions that should be considered in the differential diagnosis.

Table 3 – Differential Diagnosis 

Other Conditions

Characteristics

Generalized Urticaria

Hives appear after exposure to an allergen, may be a sign of anaphylaxis, or an isolated skin allergy.  Hypotension and respiratory distress indicate possible anaphylaxis.

Panic Attack

Patients will not have hypotension, skin findings, or respiratory findings of wheezing or stridor.

Asthma Exacerbation

Patients most likely will have respiratory symptoms and may have atopy and hypoxia, but they are unlikely to have hypotension.

Syncope

Patients will not have skin symptoms; respiratory symptoms; however, hypotension may be present. The underlying causes are usually different than agents that provoke anaphylaxis.

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