8 things to know about allergy and anaphylaxis

Did you know hospital admissions for anaphylaxis have increased fivefold in the last 20 years? Find out more in the leadup to World Allergy Week

With World Allergy Week beginning on Sunday 7 April, experts have come out warning about the skyrocketing rates of the conditions as well as pushing for government funding of a National Allergy Strategy.

The National Allergy Strategy is a partnership led by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), the leading medical and patient organisations for allergy in Australia.

“We are talking about young people dying and going into emergency departments, in most cases due to anaphylaxis that could have been avoided,” says Associate Professor Richard Loh, a leading children’s allergy specialist.

“The irony is that allergy specialists, GPs, families and consumers who live with allergy have developed a comprehensive solution.

“It just needs the political will and commitment from all parties, and at all levels of the health care system, to provide leadership to implement the strategy. We must also have adequate funding or else we will progress slowly or not at all and Australians will continue to be at risk.”

“The National Allergy Strategy was developed using the best available evidence and aligned with the experience of consumers,” says Maria Said, CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and a parent of a young adult with severe allergies, who has been advocating for people with allergic disease for more than 25 years.

“Families living with a child or young adult with food allergy, live life being fearful. They don’t trust food labels and they don’t trust the health care system to do the right thing, and that’s just food allergy,” she explains.

“Patients are put at risk because we do not have standards of care for anaphylaxis in Australia – these need to be developed and implemented.

“When children have a severe allergic reaction, many don’t receive the right emergency care and are often sent home without self-injectable adrenaline.”

“These people need food to sustain their life but without appropriate care and ongoing management it could be food that actually kills them. It is not a lifestyle choice,” says Ms Said.

Find out more about the The National Allergy Strategy here.

What do you know about allergy and anaphylaxis? Here are eight facts:

  1. Food allergy induced anaphylaxis has doubled in the last 10 years.
  2. One in 10 infants now have a food allergy and 1 in 20 children aged 10-14 years of age have a food allergy.
  3. Hospital admissions for anaphylaxis have increased 5-fold in the last 20 years.
  4. Deaths from anaphylaxis in Australia have increased by 7% per year (42% over six years from 1997-2013).
  5. Up to 1 in 10 adults with suspected but unconfirmed drug allergy are often unnecessarily treated with more expensive drugs.
  6. Although 5% of adults may be allergic to one or more drugs, up to 15% believe that they have drug allergy, and therefore are frequently unnecessarily denied treatment with an indicated drug.
  7. Inappropriately documenting that patients are penicillin allergic can result in the use of more broad-spectrum antibiotics, increasing the risk of antibiotic resistant strains, increased morbidity with more intensive care admissions and longer hospital stays.
  8. Around 4-8% children (0-5 years), and 2-4% of adults are affected by food allergy.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) provides e-training on anaphylaxis and allergy for pharmacists here

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