Society tables severe allergies

Marika Sboros

ALLERGIES are about much more than having the sniffles‚ runny nose‚ and a little discomfort from an itchy rash here and there. A severe allergy‚ such as to bees or peanuts‚ can kill. With that in mind‚ the Allergy Society of South Africa (Allsa) has launched a National Register of Severe Allergies and Anaphylaxis.

The launch was part of World Allergy Week that ran from April 8 to 14‚ with the theme of food allergies as a rising global health problem.

The society is primarily a body for medical practitioners and other allied professionals involved in the research‚ diagnosis‚ treatment and management of allergic diseases‚ but also works to inform and educate the public on optimal management of allergic diseases.

The register aims to obtain patient information and encourage patients to interact with other people living with severe allergies.

By registering‚ patients will gain access to relevant and updated information on their specific allergy‚ the society says in a news release.

In that way‚ the register will also boost awareness of anaphylaxis‚ also known as anaphylactic shock – the medical term for a severe‚ potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can develop rapidly.

It should always be treated as a medical emergency‚ say specialists.

That’s because symptoms of anaphylaxis usually occur very quickly – within 15 minutes to an hour of exposure to an allergen‚ sometimes even quicker‚ Cape Town specialist Prof Mike Levin says on Allsa’s website.

The rapid development and worsening of anaphylaxis make it “a very dangerous condition”‚ says Prof Levin‚ head of the allergy division at the Red Cross Hospital’s department of paediatrics‚ and an Allsa executive committee member.

“Signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis may be isolated to a single part of the body‚ or involve several organ systems at one time‚” Levin says.

People also need to know that the signs of anaphylaxis can range from mild skin changes‚ such as flushing‚ itching‚ redness and swelling of the face (known as angioedema)‚ to cramps‚ nausea‚ vomiting‚ diarrhoea‚ and breathing difficulties – which he describes as “life-threatening involvement of the airway‚ lungs or heart”.  © BDlive 2013

  • To sign up for the registry‚ visit www.allsa.org 

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