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New Survey Suggests Cultural Ambivalence to Allergies Leaves Many Suffering Needlessly
Date:3/20/2008

Findings Suggest that Physical Effects are not the Only Way We Suffer -

Allergies Impact Mood and Self-Perception

KENILWORTH, N.J. and WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., March 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Indoor and outdoor allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States.(1)(2) Yet, according to "Attitudes About Allergies," a national telephone survey, allergies are often disregarded as a nuisance: in today's society allergies get little respect. As a result, allergy sufferers continue to cope needlessly with not only the physical impact of allergies, but the emotional effects as well. The survey was commissioned by Schering-Plough/MERCK Pharmaceuticals and conducted by Harris Interactive(R). Three separate surveys were conducted: a survey of more than 1,000 consumers, which included allergy sufferers and non-allergy sufferers; a survey of more than 1,000 allergy sufferers only; and a survey of 300 physicians.

The survey of consumers found that they view diabetes (81 percent), hypertension or high blood pressure (76 percent) and arthritis (57 percent) as more serious than indoor and outdoor allergies. Twenty-nine percent of consumers said they view insomnia as more serious than indoor and outdoor allergies. In addition, while the survey of consumers found that seventy-eight percent feel sorry for allergy sufferers, more than a third (36 percent) believe that allergy sufferers overstate the severity of their symptoms and thirty percent say allergy sufferers use allergies as an excuse to get out of something.

"Allergies are often disregarded in our society, making it acceptable to tell allergy sufferers to 'get on with it' and not complain," said Belinda Borrelli, PhD, associate professor, department of psychiatry and human behavior, Brown Medical School and The Miriam Hospital. "But allergies take an emotional toll on the sufferer. And despite that, sufferers persevere, going to work, school and social engagements as
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SOURCE Schering-Plough; Merck
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