Emergency treatments for severe allergies



According to a study led by Moshe Ben-Shoshan, pediatric allergist and immunologist at the Montréal Children's Hospital and researcher at the McGill University Health Centre, between 2012 and 2016, children in Montréal and the Outaouais region ended up in the emergency room for anaphylaxis twice as often. The finding is of concern to the physician, especially since only half of patients admitted for anaphylaxis had a life-saving epinephrine or adrenaline auto-injector and only 50% had used it before arriving at the hospital.

Some 600 000 Canadians are at risk for anaphylaxis, which is most often brought on by nuts, peanuts or insect bites.

Recent statistics reveal that some 600 000 Canadians are at risk for anaphylaxis, which is most often brought on by nuts, peanuts or insect bites. This extremely acute allergic reaction manifests itself in different ways, including hives, wheezing, swelling, feelings of anguish and oppression and quickening pulse. Distinguishing severe allergies from intolerances, bouts of anxiety and viruses—which all trigger similar symptoms—remains a challenge for doctors who rely on clinical exams and skin tests.

Dr. Ben-Shoshan therefore sought to assess an anaphylaxis diagnostic test based on tryptase levels since tryptase is a specific marker for allergic reactions. In just a few days, a simple blood test will confirm whether a patient was anaphylactic and should have an auto-injector. The new test, which is currently available in certain clinics and emergency rooms, including those at the Montréal Children's Hospital, is mainly used for younger patients to reduce the number of skin tests, which can be unpleasant and inaccurate.