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Food Allergy

Survey Finds Many Unprepared for Anaphylaxis

Uncertain about correct use

Another disturbing finding of the survey is that a significant number of people who have been prescribed an auto-injector are uncertain or lack confidence about how to use it.

  • 27% feel they would likely panic in the event they or their child had an anaphylactic reaction.
  • 16% overall (19% of adults and 14% of parents) say they are not confident in their ability to correctly use the auto-injector.

Laurie Harada, Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada and the mother of a teenager with food allergies, notes that “being prepared is critical.  All patients and their caregivers should have immediate access to their auto-injector and know how to use it properly in case of a reaction.”

Worried others will not know what to do

One of the biggest worries among patients and parents is the fear that if they or their children were unable to care for themselves and had to rely on others during an allergic reaction, these other individuals may not know how to administer the auto-injector.

  •  56% overall (47% of adult patients and 64% of parents with children at risk) worry that others will not know how to use an auto-injector in an emergency.
  •  More than 40% of patients and parents say people around them/their children are likely to panic in this situation.

About Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a systemic allergic reaction that often involves respiratory symptoms and cardiovascular collapse, which are potentially life-threatening if not treated promptly. 1

The most common foods that cause reactions are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, soy, fish, wheat, eggs, milk and seafood. Foods account for most cases of anaphylaxis in children, while medications and stinging insects are more likely to cause a reaction in adults. Some individuals also experience severe allergic reactions to natural latex rubber. 2

About the survey

The survey was completed on-line from August 27, 2012 to September 15, 2012. The total sample size was 1,089 individuals – composed of 565 Canadian adults at risk of anaphylaxis, and 524 Canadian parents of children at risk for anaphylaxis (366 mothers and 158 fathers).

A probability sample for adults at risk of anaphylaxis of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±4.1 %, 19 times out of 20. A probability sample of parents of children at risk for anaphylaxis of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±4.3 %, 19 times out of 20.

Next: Regional breakdown of findings
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1. Frew A.J. “What are the ‘ideal’ features of an adrenaline (epinephrine) auto-injector in the treatment of anaphylaxis?” Allergy 2010; DOI:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2010.02450.x.

2. Health Canada, “It’s Your Health, Severe Allergic Reactions”.

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.