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

if nothing is wrong. Many don't feel like it would be acceptable to call in sick or change plans because of their allergies."

The survey of allergy sufferers found that about half (48 percent) feel their spouse or significant other does not view their allergies to be a serious health condition. Sufferers also perceive others as not taking their allergies that seriously, saying their relatives (81 percent), friends (86 percent) and co-workers (78 percent) view their allergies as a somewhat serious or not serious health condition. Even their physicians, they say, are ambivalent. The survey of allergy sufferers found that nearly three quarters (74 percent) believe that their doctor views their allergies as a somewhat serious or not serious health condition.

But clearly, that's not the case. According to the survey of physicians who treat allergies, a majority of physicians (84 percent) said in general, patients do not overstate allergy symptoms. In addition, most physicians view insomnia (83 percent) and osteoarthritis (69 percent) as being less serious or equally as serious as allergies. Physicians report they view diabetes (90 percent) and hypertension (84 percent) as being more serious than allergies.

"Societal ambivalence toward allergies has impacted the management of the disease," said David Lang, M.D., Section Head Allergy/Immunology Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic. "It's true that allergies aren't life threatening, but they are quality of life-threatening on both physical and emotional levels."

According to the survey of allergy sufferers, only about a third (34 percent) go to see a doctor for treatment when their symptoms are bothering them.

"It's absolutely crucial for allergy sufferers to begin a dialogue with their physicians so that, together, they can address and overcome the barriers keeping them from finding effective relief," said Jennifer Derebery, M.D., clinical professor of otolaryngology at the Keck Scho
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SOURCE Schering-Plough; Merck
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