Key facts and figures about allergy sufferers in the UK.
Monday 31st March
Allergies are becoming increasingly common here in the UK, with some 21 million adults thought to have at least one allergy. Half of them are in fact believed to have more than one.
An “allergy” is a term that describes the body's reaction to a substance that, for most of us, is harmless. The immune system believes it is being attacked and responds by producing antibodies.
According to Allergy UK, the number of allergy sufferers is increasing by a steady five per cent year-on-year. Meanwhile, there are approximately 30 allergy specialists in the country – the equivalent of just one specialist for every 700,000 sufferers.
The most frequent allergy – affecting as many as one in four of us – is seasonal allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever. In the space of 30 years the number of children being diagnosed with allergic rhinitis and eczema has increased threefold.
Treating allergies in the community (ie GP care, prescriptions etc.) costs the NHS £900m a year, with a further £68m bill for hospital admissions. In less than 25 years, the number of admissions for food allergies alone has increased by a factor of five.
“The incidence of food allergy in children is rising rapidly and now affects between six and eight per cent of children,” affirms Allergy UK's director of clinical services, Maureen Jenkins, quoting figures from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).
For information about allergies, what causes them and how to minimise their impact, visit the Allergy UK website. You can also call the Allergy UK helpline on 01332 619898.
Members of benenden health can call the 24-hour GP advice line to talk to a doctor about any health concerns they may have.