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Anaphylaxis: a history with emphasis on food allergy

Authors


A. Wesley Burks, MD
Duke University Medical Center
MSRB I 133
Durham, NC 27710, USA
Tel.: +1 919 681 2949
Fax: +1 919 668 3750
e-mail: wesley.burks@duke.edu

Summary:

In the century since Paul Portier and Charles Richet described their landmark findings of severe fatal reactions in dogs re-exposed to venom after vaccination with sea anemone venom, treatment for anaphylaxis continues to evolve. The incidence of anaphylaxis continues to be difficult to measure. Underreporting due to patients not seeking medical care as well as failure to identify anaphylaxis affects our understanding of the magnitude of the disease. Treatment with intramuscular epinephrine continues to be the recommended first-line therapy, although studies indicate that education of both the patients and the medical community is needed. Adverse food reactions continue to be the leading cause of anaphylaxis presenting for emergency care. Current therapy for food-induced anaphylaxis is built on the foundation of strict dietary avoidance, rapid access to injectable epinephrine, and education to recognize signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. Investigation into therapy with oral and sublingual immunotherapy as well as other modalities holds hope for improved treatment of food-induced anaphylaxis.

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