It is estimated that there are 2 million people in the UK living with a food allergy. In the space of 14 years, between 1997 and 2011, the number of children living with food allergies has increased by 50%. Although the amount of deaths caused as a result of anaphylactic shocks may not appear too high, more help is required for awareness to be raised over the potentially fatal condition. The aim is to eventually reduce the previously recorded number of 29,600 hospital admissions that were reported in England alone from 2015-2016.
The value of awareness being raised for those suffering with severe allergies is therefore only increasing with these reported growing numbers, and one way of approaching this is by spreading knowledge of the signs and symptoms that occur when someone is having an anaphylactic reaction. It is not necessarily just the person that has to be aware of the signs and symptoms, instead it could just be a friend that notices and can help prevent an allergic reaction from becoming fatal.
Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Red, itchy or watery eyes
- Coughing or Sneezing
- Worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms
At this point, the reaction may only be mild but if left unnoticed, (for example continue being exposed to the allergen or not taking any antihistamines when required) or in other cases a more severe reaction known as an anaphylactic shock may occur which can potentially be deadly.
Signs and symptoms of a severe reaction (or anaphylactic shock) include:
- Feeling significantly lightheaded
- Breathing difficulties
- Collapsing or loss of consciousness
These symptoms are serious and if a person experiences any of these, particularly those that involve airways potentially becoming blocked or a loss of consciousness, it is vital that adrenaline (which they should be carrying) is injected correctly, an ambulance is called and “anaphylaxis” is said to the crew.
With the dramatic increase in children developing allergies, it is important that awareness is raised to help support parents that may not have an idea of how to deal with their children’s allergies, or schools that aren’t allergy friendly (for example due to allergens being around at lunch). Awareness can therefore be raised by campaigns or presentations to help educate those at school, both teachers and students, to spread knowledge over allergies and potentially prevent and help support those that have to live with allergies at school. The understanding of when a reaction is happening, or how to use an Adrenaline Auto-Injector, could potentially save lives.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign has been campaigning for raised awareness and understanding for 25 years. Through our increasing presence on social media, we aim to reach all of our supporters and members with our campaigns. We focus on all age groups, from pre-school age to adults, and make sure that as many people as possible are aware of what to do in the event of a reaction. In the future, we aim to continue increasing this awareness to support people living with severe allergies.
If you have any questions, please contact [email protected] or call our helpline on 01252 542029.