Allergic Reactions caused by Transfusions

Allergic Reactions Caused by Transfusion

Blood transfusions can save lives during medical emergencies, but they can also cause serious allergic reactions. Despite advances in medicine, blood transfusion allergies remain a major concern for transfusion doctors and patients. After a transfusion, some individuals may suffer from a wide array of allergic responses which include hives, breathing difficulty, shock, and anaphylaxis.

The most common allergies associated with transfusion reaction involve the presence of immunoglobulins (antibodies). The body naturally produces immunoglobulins to protect against foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. During a transfusion, if incompatible antibodies enter the bloodstream, an immune response can be triggered. This immune response can cause the release of chemicals, including histamine, that can cause allergic reactions.

If an allergic reaction is suspected, the transfusion should be stopped immediately. In more severe cases, medical intervention is needed to counteract the allergic response and to ensure the patient’s safety. Patients should also be monitored for any post-transfusion reactions.

Symptoms of Allergic Reactions caused by Transfusions

Allergic reactions caused by transfusions occur soon after the transfusion begins and usually take the form of anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. Common symptoms include swelling of the face, itching and hives, breathing difficulties, rapid heart rate, abdominal pain and vomiting.

If any of the above symptoms are observed, medical attention must be sought immediately. The doctor may prescribe a variety of medications including antihistamines, corticosteroids or epinephrine. These medications help to reduce inflammation, control symptoms and prevent a more serious allergic reaction.

Preventing Allergic Reactions from Transfusions

The best way to avoid transfusion-related allergic reactions is to use blood products that are compatible with the patient’s blood type and immune system. Blood centers and hospitals test all donated blood to ensure compatibility. Patients should also be tested for any specific antibodies that might react with foreign blood.

Patients should also be aware of any potential side-effects that could occur as a result of a transfusion, including the risks associated with incompatible blood. It is also important to inform the doctor of any allergies, either to the blood itself, or to any medications or preservatives used to store or prepare the blood.


Allergic reactions due to transfusions are relatively rare, but can be life-threatening when they occur. It is important that transfusions be performed with compatible blood and that any blood-related allergies be identified prior to a transfusion. Patients should fully understand the risks associated with blood transfusions and be aware of any symptoms that may indicate a transfusion-related allergic reaction.