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A Look at Anaphylaxis in America

A Look at Anaphylaxis in America

Anaphylaxis is an acute, life-threating condition that typically requires an ED visit, a prescription for medication, and physician follow-up. However, data regarding the prevalence of anaphylaxis in the United States are limited and vary widely. To help shed light on the state of anaphylaxis, Robert A. Wood, MD, and colleagues conducted random telephone surveys among the general U.S. adult population between July and November 2011. Results were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Using a stringent definition, the research team found that 1.6% of survey respondents “very likely” had anaphylaxis and that 5.1% had “probable” anaphylaxis. “Anaphylaxis is clearly a common condition, perhaps more than what has been estimated in prior surveys,” says Dr. Wood. “Furthermore, anaphylaxis is common among all age groups. It has been previously thought to be a pediatric problem, but our surveys focused entirely on adults. Healthcare providers will encounter anaphylaxis on a regular basis, and therefore should be inquiring about it while taking initial or integral medical histories.” Key Findings Beyond determining the prevalence of anaphylaxis, the researchers sought to gather information on the symptoms and triggers of anaphylactic reactions as well as how patients reacted to episodes in terms of accessing healthcare and using medications. After conducting a survey of the general population (public survey), a second survey was conducted targeting a higher-risk population of subjects with a history of allergic reactions (patient survey). “The symptoms typically thought to accompany anaphylaxis, such as skin reactions and respiratory issues, were indeed the most common among both groups,” says Dr. Wood (Figure). “Other common symptoms involved the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neurologic systems....
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