Millions of people have allergies that often present with itching, hives, teary eyes, runny nose or a cough. But at the extreme end of the allergy disorder, some people may develop anaphylaxis, which is a type of allergic reaction that can lead to death.
Anaphylaxis can occur in some people if they eat peanuts, tree nuts and/or seeds or after being stung by a bee. Anaphylaxis usually presents immediately, and the symptoms may include swelling of the face, difficulty breathing and inability to speak. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition which requires immediate medical attention to save a life.
A recent report from Blue Cross Blue Shield reveals that the incidence of anaphylaxis in the US has markedly increased. The report looked at emergency room visits for anaphylaxis from years 2010-2016 and noted that 9.6 million children under the age of 18 presented to the ER. From 2010, there were 1.4 visits per 10,000 children with anaphylaxis, but by 2016, the rates of anaphylaxis more than doubled to 3.5 visits per 10,000 children.
Further analysis of the data revealed that at least 47% of these emergency room visits for anaphylaxis were attributed to specific foods- chiefly peanut and other related seeds. The other 53 percent were associated with unknown foods or unspecified causes.
The reason this study was undertaken was to educate parents about anaphylaxis and teach them on how to prevent it. Alerting patients to the dangers of potent allergies is vital said Dr. Trent Haywood, the Chief Medical Officer of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association because of the recent controversy about the high cost of Epipen. This injectable is commonly prescribed to children at risk and can be used at home or at school.
Recently, guidelines for parents were published to educate them about anaphylaxis. These guidelines included noting early signs of possible anaphylaxis, use of Epipen and seeking emergency medical assistance. While many parents have made changes in the home environment to prevent allergic reactions, unfortunately, most severe allergic reactions tend to occur outside the home. This means that parents also have to teach the child about allergies and how to use the Epipen.
Children at highest risk for anaphylaxis are those with asthma and a history of allergies. Even a child with a mild anaphylactic reaction in the past is at a much higher risk for a repeat episode.
Epipen is highly recommended for any child with a history of food allergies or a severe reaction to a bee sting. To counter the peanut allergy, the current trend is to expose the child to peanut early in life, as this has been shown to lower the chances of a child developing an allergy in future. In any case, anaphylaxis is a serious problem, and people need to be prepared to deal with such a situation if it occurs, especially those who are already prone to allergic reactions.