A history of allergy to specific substances must be sought, whether it is a drug, foods or adhesives, and the exact nature of the symptoms and signs should be elicited in order to distinguish true allergy from some other predictable adverse reaction. Latex allergy is becoming an increasing problem and requires specific equipment to be used perioperatively. Atopic individuals do not have an increased risk of anaphylaxis, but may demonstrate increased cardiovascular or respiratory reactivity to any vasoactive mediators (e.g. histamine) released following administration of some drugs.
A small number of patients describe an allergic reaction to previous anaesthetic exposure. A careful history and examination of the relevant medical notes should clarify the details of the problem, together with the documentation of any postoperative investigations.
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