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Health Alert: You Must React Immediately To Potentially Life-Threatening Allergies
(NC)-Does this sound familiar?

Your doctor has shown you how to use an auto-injector for adrenaline in the event of a severe allergy attack, but you are dreading the day it is needed. At the same time, you also know that your child's life could be saved by the correct use of this medicine.


These anxieties are natural for parents, so it may relieve you to know that help is on its way. Currently 600,000 Canadians may be at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to such triggers as foods, drugs, insect stings, and natural latex rubber - and the medical profession is pointing to a rapidly increasing rate. On September 19, Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix is holding a Health-Watch for Children Day at as many as 800 stores across Canada. Pharmacists at these locations will conduct one-on-one educational session with allergic individuals, parents, or caregivers of children with food, and other potentially life-threatening allergies. The sessions will include a demonstration of how to properly use a spring-loaded epinephrine injector; how to recognize early symptoms; and what to do should an anaphylactic reaction occur.


"If a qualified allergist has determined that someone has a potentially life-threatening allergy, then that person needs to know how to avoid their particular trigger and how to proceed in the event of an unexpected reaction. It is important to be prepared and to act swiftly," says Jane Salter, President of Anaphylaxis Canada. "Unlike milder allergic reactions (hay fever, eczema), anaphylaxis reflects extreme activity of the immune system and can lead to compromise of all body systems. The most worrying signs and symptoms relate to the heart and lungs. Foods account for approximately 50% of fatal anaphylaxis reactions and peanut is the food most commonly associated with death.


"While most reactions occur shortly after contact, a few may be delayed one or two hours. Early injection of adrenaline (epinephrine) is the cornerstone of therapy. While the first symptoms can be very mild, it is important to stop the reaction at this point before it gets out of hand. As a dose of epinephrine lasts for only 10 or 20 minutes, patients should carry one dose for every 15 minutes travel time to a medical facility (to a maximum of three doses). Many reactions recur within four to six hours. Hence, if someone has had a reaction, it is important that they remain in a hospital setting for several hours."


Mark your calendar on Sept. 19


During HealthWatch for Children Day, a special pharmacist-directed clinic will guide parents through these issues during private 20-minute appointments. Parents will be provided with an updated HealthWatch brochure, Food Allergies and Intolerance; a fanny pack for children, large enough to hold two doses of epinephrine; and laminated instructions on how to administer the medication with an auto-injector, which can be carried around in the fanny pack.


Anaphylaxis Canada, and Association Quebecois des Allergies Alimentaires have endorsed the Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix initiative on this important health focus, and suggest that the Sept. 19 information day will go a long way to provide information and clarification. Contact your local Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix for an appointment.