Diagnosing idiopathic anaphylaxis
How is IA diagnosed?
The diagnosis of idiopathic anaphylaxis (IA) is a diagnosis of exclusion. Reference [Blatman KH, Grammer LC. Idiopathic anaphylaxis. In: Castells MC, ed. Anaphylaxis and Hypersensitivity Reactions. NY: Humana Pr; 2011, 223–334].
What, exactly, is a diagnosis of exclusion? It is the diagnosis that is given after every other possible diagnosis has been ruled out.
Imagine that the rectangle to the right represents all of the possible diagnoses that someone with recurrent, unexplained anaphylaxis could be given. Some people may be diagnosed with allergies — or asthma or hereditary angioedema (HAE). But if all of the diagnoses in that diagram (and perhaps more, too) have been ruled out, what do we call the disease or condition of the people who are left over?
The people who fall into that small, unclaimed area in the graphic are said to have idiopathic anaphylaxis.
At this time there is no definitive test or measurement that can be used to diagnose IA. Therefore, before the diagnosis is given to a person there should be a complete workup to rule out the other possible causes of recurrent anaphylaxis. There are many different conditions that may cause — or resemble — repeated instances of anaphylaxis, and IA is not necessarily the worst of them.
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The first step in diagnosing idiopathic anaphylaxis (IA) is to have an allergist do a complete workup for known triggers of anaphylaxis.
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Page last updated: May 30, 2011