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Allergies And Anaphylaxis: Analyzing The Spectrum Of Clinical Manifestations

October 2005

Abstract

Perhaps no other diagnostic entity embodies the true essence of emergency medicine better than acute anaphylaxis the rapid and often unpredictable onset of potentially lethal symptoms, the propensity for significant morbidity and mortality if not treated swiftly and aggressively, and the wide availability of highly effective treatment modalities... all frequently occurring in those who are young, otherwise healthy, and in the prime of their lives.

This issue of Emergency Medicine Practice will examine the proper evaluation and management of patients with severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, and will tackle many of its controversial issues, including:

  • Use of epinephrine In which cases, by what route, and when should it be avoided?
  • Antihistamines H1 and H2 blockers, alone or in combination: what's the evidence?
  • Observation of patients with allergic reactions In what setting and for how long?
In addition, this issue will examine other key issues related to anaphylaxis, including:

  • Radiographic contrast material (RCM) allergies What's the truth? If a patient is allergic to shellfish, is RCM contraindicated?
  • Penicillin and cephalosporin allergies What's the relation? If a patient reports a history of allergy to penicillin, is treatment with cephalosporins really contraindicated?
  • Finally, how do we distinguish a true drug "allergy" from the far more frequent medication "side effect"?
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