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Medications are the top cause of allergy-related deaths

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You probably know that an severe allergic reaction can lead to death. Your first thought might be peanuts since that is what is in the news these days. Many people are seriously allergic to peanuts and cannot eat anything that contains a peanut component.

However, non-food items can cause deadly allergic reactions. Among the allergy-inducing items are medications, some of which are very common.

What is anaphylaxis?

If your throat feels itchy when you eat shellfish, or a bug bite gives you a case of hives, you are simply experiencing allergic reactions. A severe reaction is known as anaphylaxis. This life-threatening condition requires immediate medical attention. Fortunately, for some, an injection of epinephrine will likely reverse the symptoms.

What causes the most allergy-related deaths?

A long-term study revealed that medications were the cause of almost 60 percent of allergy-related deaths. About 15 percent of the studied deaths resulted from the venom produced by insect bites, while food allergies caused less than 7 percent of the total deaths. Using data gathered from death certificates, the researchers found that nearly 2,500 deaths were related to anaphylaxis.

Identifying the medications

The researchers pointed out that the drug responsible for a fatal allergic reaction was not identified in most of the case they studied. However, when the medication was identified, an antibiotic most often listed, a prescription almost everyone has at one time or another. Other allergy-inducing medications included radiocontrast agents used in diagnostic imaging tests and chemotherapy medications that treat cancer.

How can I protect myself from an allergic reaction?

A serious allergic reaction might produce life-threatening symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing or throat swelling. Be sure you always tell your doctor what you are allergic to, including medicines you cannot take, such as penicillin or certain antibiotics. It is not out of the realm of possibility that a health care professional could prescribe a medication that might be very harmful to you, but the more information you provide, the better your chance to avoid exposure to a dangerous allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.

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