Survey Reveals What Doctors May Not Know About Allergies

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Even professionals can have difficulty keeping up with the constant flow of updated information available in their field.

A survey study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting reveals that misperceptions about allergies are slow to fade, even in the medical community. This is why the ACAAI recommends parents who think their child has an allergy look for a board-certified allergist for assessment and treatment.

Of the 409 doctors surveyed - each specializing in pediatrics or internal medicine - only half knew that the best initial treatment for symptoms of hives and vomiting, after consuming a known food allergen, was epinephrine.

The survey provides other interesting findings as well.

  • Eighty-five percent of the internal medicine physicians surveyed did not realize the flu shot is safe for people with egg allergies.
  • More than half of the pediatricians believed that skin prick tests for inhaled or food allergens are only viable after a child turns three. Actually, there is no age restriction on skin prick testing though it is rarely done on infants fewer than six months old.
  • Doctors in both specialties did not realize that iodine cannot be an allergen because it is found in all human bodies, or that shellfish allergies are unrelated to CT scan reactions. (Since shellfish contains iodine, and CT scans use an iodinated contrast solution for imaging, many physicians have erroneously associated shellfish with CT scan reactions.)
  • Of the pediatricians surveyed, 27 percent knew the prime cause of food allergy in kids under four are milk or eggs (13 percent of them answered artificial food coloring, and 34 percent indicated strawberries).

Board certified allergists are first certified in either internal medicine or pediatrics. Then, they receive two more years of training in the allergy/immunology specialty, qualifying them to address all types of allergies.

You can get information about allergists where you live at AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

Of course, in certain situations we depend on the treatment professionals available to us. By staying up-to-date about any health conditions we or a family member has, we can engage in respectful, informed dialogs with nurses and physicians.

Source: ACAAI Photo credit: A Forest Frolic / flickr creative commons

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