Why are allergies and anaphylaxis on the rise in the UK? 

Why are allergies and anaphylaxis on the rise in the UK? 

This year alone, the number of hospital-reported allergic reactions has doubled compared to two decades ago. In 1993, there were 12,361 admissions to English hospitals for allergies and anaphylaxis; this year alone, we’ve witnessed over 25,700 cases.

Cultural diversity 

The reason? Put simply, we’re more culturally diverse than ever. 

With a wider availability of foods worldwide, we’re increasingly exposed to allergens uncommon in the British diet. 

Specifically, legume and kiwifruit allergies are on the rise. A recent UK study testing reactions to lentils, beans, chickpeas, and green beans showed that 72% of children had an allergy to at least one. The prevalence of a kiwifruit allergy across England is as high as 60.0%, with direct skin contact being enough to trigger reactions.

Challenges in eating out

Eating and drinking out can be where the main issue lies. Despite the cost of living crisis, two in five (40%) Britons go out to eat and drink at least weekly in 2023. 

Trying new foods and flavours poses risks, especially in sauces and ingredients you’ve never encountered. Alcohol also poses a significant risk, as highlighted by a recent case involving a partygoer and pink peppercorns. The peppercorns had cross-reacted with cashew nuts, triggering her nut allergy.

The rise of artisanal-infused spirits

As artisanal-infused spirits gain popularity, botanicals, fruits, vegetables, and spices are fused into the base alcohol. Once drinks are flowing, knowing precisely what you’re consuming becomes impossible.

It’s this exposure that is contributing to the rise in allergies in England.

Preparation is key

Greater exposure means greater risk, but it doesn’t mean you must become a hermit. The best thing you can do is be prepared.

Recognising symptoms

Know what an allergy looks like. Understand the symptoms of anaphylaxis so you know what steps to take if you react to an unfamiliar allergen.

Anaphylactic shock symptoms include swelling of the throat and tongue, difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, or noisy breathing, difficulty swallowing, confusion, dizziness, fainting, and a swollen, raised, or itchy rash. If you have an EpiPen, use it immediately and call 999 for medical attention. Say “anaphylaxis” for speed, lay flat, raise your legs, and wait for medical attention. If you are pregnant, lay on your left side. 

Not all reactions are severe but don’t downplay them if you face a reaction. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Be prepared, know your triggers

Rather than leaving it to chance and reacting to anaphylaxis, it’s better to know your triggers. All restaurants are obligated to disclose ingredients, allowing you to enjoy your social life confidently.

Put your health first

The rising numbers in England underscore the severe consequences of allergies. Being prepared with knowledge about your triggers and having an Epipen dramatically reduces the potential for exposure to harm. Consider taking an allergy test to gain peace of mind.

Our allergy experts are here to guide you through the testing process and provide the support and advice you need to enjoy your life without stress. Don’t let allergies hold you back—take action now and invest in your well-being. Register as a new patient or call us at 02031 433 449 to gain confidence when enjoying your social life.

 

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