A new study, lead by Dr David Stukus — an allergy specialist at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio — has found that many primary care physicians are not well versed in the causes and best treatments for allergies.
The results of a survey of over 400 internists and pediatricians were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) last week. What the researchers found was profoundly disturbing: misconceptions about allergies were common, especially when it came to food allergies.
Here are some examples:
- One third of all doctors and half of internists did not know that epinephrine was the treatment of choice for someone who develops hives and vomiting after ingesting a known allergen;
- 85% of internists believed that people with egg allergies could not receive the flu vaccine;
- Only 27% of pediatricians knew that milk and eggs are the most common food allergies in children younger than 4. Most cited strawberries, which are not in the top 8 list of most common allergens.
- Most doctors thought skin testing for food and airborne allergens in children younger than 3 was inaccurate (not true);
- Most also thought it was necessary to ask patients about allergies to shellfish before they could have CT scans or other tests that use iodine-based contrast dyes. (People with such allergies do not have a higher incidence of reactions to such dyes.)
“We’re not saying that everyone with nasal allergies needs to see a specialist,” Stukus said. “But”, he added, “if you or your child has a more complicated condition, like a food allergy — or if your allergy or asthma symptoms are not well controlled — it might be time to see a specialist.”