Study: Allergies Need to Be Taken Seriously

FRIDAY Nov. 9, 2012 -- The number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations caused by a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis could be reduced if people with allergies took proper preventive measures, according to a new study.

Anaphylaxis can occur as a result of food and drug allergies or insect bites and stings.

Researchers looked at nearly 12,000 people who went to an emergency department or were hospitalized due to anaphylaxis between 2002 and 2008. Twenty-five percent of the patients had severe anaphylaxis.

The patients were less likely to have filled a prescription for lifesaving epinephrine or to have seen an allergist in the previous year, according to the study, which was presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

"When you have an anaphylactic reaction, epinephrine is important for managing life-threatening symptoms," study author Sunday Clark, assistant professor of emergency medicine and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, said in an ACAAI news release.

"Allergic people at risk should always carry two doses of epinephrine and regularly see an allergist to prevent severe allergic reactions that require hospitalization," Clark advised.

"Although symptoms may not always be severe, allergies are serious and, in some cases, deadly," ACAAI president Dr. Stanley Fineman said in the news release. "Allergies can be effectively controlled with proper diagnosis and treatment by a board-certified allergist that involves more than just relieving symptoms, but finding the source of the suffering."

The ACAAI suggests that people who have had anaphylaxis in the past should:

  • Wear a medical bracelet that lists the allergy that causes anaphylaxis.
  • Avoid allergens that trigger anaphylaxis.
  • Have an emergency plan that outlines what to do if you unexpectedly come into contact with your trigger, and teach your family and friends how to help you if you begin to have anaphylaxis.
  • Carry emergency epinephrine with you at all times if it's been prescribed for you.

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about anaphylaxis.

Posted: November 2012


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