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Review Article Describes Anaphylaxis Natural History

Researchers find the condition disproportionately affects women and is often of unknown origin

FRIDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Anaphylaxis affects more women than men and in most cases its cause is unknown, according to a review article published in the July issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Luke M. Webb, M.D., of the University of Tennessee in Germantown, and colleagues obtained data on 601 patients who presented at a clinic with anaphylaxis of unknown causes between 1978 and 2003.

The researchers found that women accounted for 62 percent of cases and a cause could not be determined in 59 percent of cases. In cases where a cause could be identified, the most common triggers included foods (22 percent), medications (11 percent) and exercise (5 percent). In 87 percent of patients, symptoms included urticaria, angioedema or both.

"Although all cases in this study were evaluated by only a few different allergists in a group practice, allergists or emergency department physicians from another area may have more strict or liberal criteria for diagnosis and reporting of anaphylaxis episodes," the authors write. "This makes consistent demographic data difficult to find. A recent study suggested a revised diagnostic and severity grading system for various constellations of symptoms in patients presenting to emergency departments."

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