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Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about the patient's allergy history and about his or her exposure to any of the common allergens that trigger anaphylaxis. It is very important for the doctor to know if the patient's symptoms started soon after exposure to an allergen, for instance after eating nuts, after a bee sting or after taking an antibiotic. Because the patient may be too sick to provide this information, a family member, friend, co-worker or school nurse will need to help. People with a history of severe allergic reactions should consider wearing a medical alert identification necklace or bracelet to save valuable time in identifying the problem.

The doctor usually can diagnose anaphylaxis based on the patient's history and the results of a physical examination.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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