By Gina Mennett Lee, M.Ed.

President & Founder, Food Allergy Education Network, Inc.

A study by Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, (published 2 days ago in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) finds that “severe life-threatening reactions—anaphylaxis—are common in the U.S.”   Let me repeat this…life-threatening reactions are COMMON in the United States.

Just how common?

“According to the peer-reviewed study, anaphylaxis very likely occurs in nearly 1-in-50 Americans (1.6%), and the rate is probably higher, close to 1-in-20 (5.1%).”

Why is this important? 

This is the first large-scale study of it’s kind to determine the actual prevalence of anaphylaxis.   This study gives solid data to support what we are experiencing as food allergy advocates and educators.

Some interesting Stats:

  • “The most common triggers reported were medications (34%), foods (31%), and insect stings (20%)”
  • “Only 11% of those that experienced anaphylaxis used epinephrine”
  • “Only 10% called 911”

The most disturbing finding was that most people were unprepared to respond. 

  • “Only 52% had ever received a prescription for epinephrine”
  • “At the time of the survey, 60% did not have epinephrine available to them”

Now some of this is not “news” to those of us in the food allergy world.  Last year around this time, I wrote a post about the shockingly high number of families at the FARE Walk that did not have their child’s epinephrine with the them.

But it is not only children that we need to look out for.  In my role as a food allergy educator, I have many conversations with adults with food allergies.  I always ask if they carry epinephrine and most times their answer is “no”.

What does all of this mean?

Once again the message is clear.

ANAPHYLAXIS IS REAL.  

ANAPHYLAXIS IS LIFE-THREATENING.

ALWAYS CARRY YOUR EPI.

USE YOUR EPI WHEN EXPERIENCING ANAPHYLAXIS. 

We need to get this message out to those that need it most if we want to prevent unnecessary deaths.

One last concern:  I am wondering why only 52% of those that have experienced anaphylaxis have ever received a prescription.   Does this indicate a larger issue…that epinephrine is not prescribed even when indicated???

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Resources:

Please download our FREE ” You Could Save Life…” Poster & Share with family, friends, schools and businesses.

FAEN Poster 8 x 11- web

Kids with Food Allergies Foundation (A division of AAFA) created this excellent 2-page guide for parents of children with food allergies.

steps-to-avoid-allergic-reactions

More more information on the study, click here.

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