Reviewed by Hansa Bhargava on December 14, 2015

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Thomas Chacko, MD Allergist

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Video Transcript

THOMAS CHACKO: The difference between allergies and anaphylaxis-- anaphylaxis can be the life-threatening type, meaning-- allergies, when people think about it, could be sneezing, hayfever, or even asthma. But anaphylaxis could be those symptoms as well as more, including hypotension-- or low blood pressure; wheezing to the point where you can't breathe; loss of consciousness or passing out. So anaphylaxis is life-threatening or very severe allergies.

If it's a food allergy, most people discover that when they're younger once they had the first or second time of introduction to, let's say, peanuts or some type of tree nut. Possibly other sources of anaphylaxis, like insect sting, like, you know, people could be life-threatening allergic to bee stings. That could be later because you might not have been stung by a bee earlier or it could be your second time that you got stung that you had this significant life-threatening anaphylaxis.

So it depends on what you're allergic to. Most of the time you don't grow out of anaphylaxis. With food allergies, about 20% to 25% of patients may grow out of it. That means the vast majority-- 80-- 80% or so-- will keep it. So most people do not outgrow anaphylaxic reactions. I would say the mortality rates are not going up, meaning we are better now at identifying anaphylaxis and people are much more aware. So people aren't dying as much from anaphylaxis.

Unfortunately, there still are deaths but not as much in the past because we're better at being aware of it as well as treating it.