Epidemiology of anaphylaxis in the United States
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by a syndrome of dermatologic and systemic signs and symptoms, at times including cardiovascular collapse from distributive shock. Although it is recognized that the incidence of anaphylaxis is increasing, the extent of its prevalence, both from individual causes and in toto, remains unclear. Common causes include pharmacologic agents, such as antibiotics and radiocontrast media, as well as foods, insect stings, and latex exposure. The available literature suffers from methodologic shortcomings, limiting the accuracy of estimated prevalence. However, current data suggest that there are approximately 1500 annual deaths from anaphylaxis, and between 2.8 million and 42.7 million Americans are at risk of experiencing an episode of anaphylaxis during their lives.