Saturday, 4 January 2014

Allergies Is Serious Business


It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Avoiding contact with any chemical or substance that could possible trigger an allergic reaction is always the best possible option available to those who suffer from allergies. However, there are some individuals who are unable to identify the allergens to which they should stay away from and as a result they continue to come in contact with such allergens.
Anyone who had an allergic reaction knows the severe discomfort that accompanies this medical condition requiring multiple visits to the hospital and time off from work and or school. It’s a time of sheer frustration and distress.
In North America (the United States of America and Canada) individuals who are at risk from developing an allergic reaction have at their disposal the choice of getting a prefilled automatic injection (EpiPen) containing epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airway sin the lungs. These effects can reverse severe skin itching, hives and other symptoms of an allergic reaction.
However, patients in Jamaica are not so fortunate since the local medical fraternity for whatever the reason/s does not see this as a priority. Having access to an EpiPen can be a necessary life saving tool.
Individuals who have had a history of allergies or asthma, or people who have had severe allergic reactions may be at risk for anaphylactic shock.  Anaphylaxis is a sudden and potentially fatal allergic reaction in somebody sensitive to a substance characterized by a drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, itching and swelling. Having access to an EpiPen is certainly a first line response in a case of emergency until that individual get to the hospital for further treatment, however, it appears that in Jamaica this is not viewed as such.
In Canada for example one can purchase an EpiPen without a prescription.
Why is it that in Jamaica EpiPen are not available for those individuals who suffer from allergic reactions?  What is the position of the Ministry of Health regarding having EpiPen available locally?
With so few doctors trained as allergists in Jamaica maybe the time has come for the local medical fraternity to examine the possibility of allowing EpiPens to be available to patients who suffer from severe form of allergies.