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When it comes to understanding allergies, your doctor may not know best

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Your family doctor may not know how to treat your allergies, finds study

Results of a new study show some doctors may not know best when it comes to treating patients for allergies. The finding, presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting revealed just half of internal medicine doctors and pediatricians questioned knew how to treat vomiting and hives from a food allergy. Many doctor also failed to recognize the most common food allergies in children under age 4.


Allergist and ACAAI member Kara Wada, MD, lead study author., said in a press release that only fifty-percent of internal medicine doctors knew to give epinephrine for food allergy accompanied by vomiting and hives.

Other allergy myths believed by doctors

In addition to the above, there were other allergy myths that were reported in physician surveys including:

  • Eighty-five percent of internal medicine doctors thought people with egg allergy cannot take the flu shot, which is contrary to what we now know.
  • Less than thirty-percent of pediatric physicians identified eggs and milk as the most common food allergy among children under age four - 34 percent thought it was strawberries and 13 percent identified food coloring as the culprit.
  • Another myth from both internal medicine and pediatric physicians was that if patients are allergic to shellfish that contains iodine they cannot have a CT scan because of the contrast media that is given. Since iodine is found in the human body, the allergy experts explain it isn't iodine at all that causes a CT contrast reaction.
  • Most pediatricians also believed allergy skin testing for food or inhaled allergens is inaccurate until age-3. The truth is there is no age limit, though testing is rarely done under 6-months of age.

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Study highlights the importance of seeing an allergy specialist for testing and treatment.

Allergist and ACAAI fellow and member David Stukus, MD, senior study author explained in a press release that allergists are board certified in either internal medicine or pediatrics and then receive another two-years of education and training in allergy and immunology, making them the most qualified to address any kind of allergic condition.

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