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Is it Asthma or is it Anaphylaxis?

In a retrospective review of a single intensive care unit (ICU) trauma center in New York, 3.4% of adult patients admitted for severe asthma exacerbations had symptomology that could also be diagnosed as anaphylaxis, according to a study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

As respiratory symptoms are a dominant feature of both asthma and , being able to distinguish between the two becomes crucial for appropriate treatment. Researchers sought to determine what percentage of adult patients admitted to intensive care at Jacobi Medical Center in Bronx, New York for asthma exacerbations between January 2012 and December 2014 may also have met the criteria for anaphylaxis.

Do you have asthma and severe allergies? Would you know how to tell the difference between an asthma attack and anaphylaxis? 

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Comments 4

  • Melissa G

    Several years ago I had a reaction to a muscle relaxer that I had been taking. I only had two symptoms initially, blisters on my eyes and difficulty breathing. If it hadn't been for the blisters I would never had thought I was having a reaction, I would have thought it was an asthma flare. I went to the ER and was given IV benadryl, steroids and a breathing treatment. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Gracious, so glad you were okay, Melissa. Knowing what you know now, would you use an epinephrine auto-injector in a similar situation?

    Thanks for the reminder … our docs remind us a lot that when in doubt, if we have two systems involved, use epinephrine!

  • Melissa G

    Yes I would have! when I contacted my neurosurgeon, he replied you know what you should have done. I was like, I know…I know…but it was also my 30th birthday and I was trying to avoid the ER…I ended up there twice that day anyway. Needless to say, I don't take that muscle relaxer anymore.