The number of times children aged under 9 have been treated for anaphylactic shock has risen more than 50% in the last five years
Last year the NHS recorded a record total of 32,167 hospital sessions – almost 90 every week – where a person was seen by a doctor for help with their allergic reaction.
Patients were treated for skin conditions brought on by a reaction to a host of substances including food, plants, chemicals, cosmetics and drugs.
There were also those suffering from stomach complaints triggered by foods and people whose nose and eyes were set off by seasonal weather changes or pollen in the air.
The figures from NHS Digital also show that around one in seven of the patients suffered from a severe potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction where the body goes into shock, and is normally treated with an injection of adrenaline.
An allergic reaction to peanuts is believed to be one of the most common reasons for people going into anaphylactic shock.
Worryingly the hospital data shows that the number of times children aged under 9 have been treated for anaphylactic shock has risen more than 50% in the last five years from 435 occasions to last year’s tally of 672.
Studies around the globe are suggesting that the proportion of people suffering from allergies at some point in their life has been increasing, affecting almost one-third of the population.
The increase in allergy sufferers is shown in the NHS figures that reveals the annual increase in NHS hospital sessions has risen steeply from 3% per year to last year’s rise of 10%.
The most frequent allergies are asthma and hay fever type reactions to the environment, but in the UK food allergies are becoming much more common with an estimated 50% of children diagnosed with some kind of food allergy.
Scientists are not certain what might have triggered the rise in allergies but there are theories that a change in the types of foods we consume, genetics, environmental pollution and an increase in hygiene may all play a part.
The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is said to be allergic to horses while tennis champion Serena Williams is reportedly allergic to peanuts.
Amena Warner, Head of Clinical Services at Asthma UK, said: “Whatever the reason, it is very alarming that so many people are having allergic reactions.
“There is also a lack of allergy or immunology/allergy services in the UK, where people can go for specialist advice and management, often with long waiting times.
“Having to live with the risk of having a severe allergic reaction can impair quality of life, not just for the person affected, but for the whole family.”