Food-induced anaphylaxis and repeated epinephrine treatments

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2007 Nov;99(5):429-32. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60568-6.


Background: Research on the use of more than 1 dose of epinephrine in the treatment of food-induced anaphylaxis is limited.

Objective: To perform a medical record review to examine the frequency of repeated epinephrine treatments in patients presenting with food-induced anaphylaxis to the emergency department (ED).

Methods: We reviewed 39 medical records of patients who presented with food-induced allergic reactions to the Massachusetts General Hospital ED during a 1-year period. The analysis focused on the timing of the onset of symptoms and on the number of epinephrine treatments given before and during the ED visit.

Results: Of the 39 patients, 34 had an acute food-induced allergic reaction. Nineteen had anaphylaxis. Twelve patients with anaphylaxis (63%; 95% confidence interval, 38%-84%) received at least 1 dose of epinephrine, and 3 (16%; 95% confidence interval, 3%-40%) were given 2 doses. Although statistical analysis was not possible, repeated epinephrine treatment occurred in patients with anaphylaxis to peanut or tree nut and hypotension. There was no apparent association between time from ingestion of the causative agent to epinephrine treatment(s).

Conclusions: Of patients presenting to the ED with food-induced anaphylaxis, approximately 16% were treated with 2 doses of epinephrine. This study supports the recommendation that patients at risk for food-induced anaphylaxis carry 2 doses of epinephrine. Further study is needed to confirm these results and to expand them to patients who do not present to the ED because that group may have a lower frequency of epinephrine use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy*
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Food Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Epinephrine