Severe allergic reactions are rising

Recent figures have shown that over the past 5 years there has been a noticeable increase in children being admitted to hospitals in England for severe allergic reactions according to recent NHS figures.

NHS figures also show that 1746 children were treated for ‘Anaphylactic Shock’ in 2018 – 2019, and thats up from 1015 in 2013 – 2014. Children under 10 were more likely to be affected by an allergic reaction with 1018 being admitted to hospital in the last year, compared with 601 in 2013 -2014.

Their is also an noticeable increase in adult cases over the last 5 years  too from 4107 to 5497 according to NHS figures.

Why are we seeing more severe allergic reactions?

Scientists believe that factors such as changes in diet, exposure to pollution, and less exposure to microbes which can change how our immune system reacts to an allergenic threat. It is also thought that allergies and increased sensitivity to foods are probably environmental and related to Western lifestyles.

People who migrate to their adopted country are showing an higher prevalance to food allergies compared to their country of origin this further illustrates the environmental factors.

There is no real explanation why we are becoming more allergic to foods but scientists have a few theories such as improved hygiene so children are not getting so many infections. Infections use the same mechanisms to tackle allergic reactions, with fewer infections to fight the immune turns against things which should be harmless to us.

What are the most common triggers?

The most common triggers of  severe allergic reactions;

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, Pine nuts, Brazil nuts, Pecans)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fish
  • Shell fish (Crustaceans and Molluscs)
  • Wasps or Bee stings
  • Latex
  • Some medicines such as Antibiotics and Aspirin

Even the smallest exposure can trigger severe allergic reactions which can quickly bring on respiratory difficulties, raised heart rate, and they can lose consciousness rapidly.

Have you noticed

In a growing number of food outlets they are starting to ask if you have any known food allergies when you order you food from them, which is a great start in ensuring the food we eat is free from things that may cause a severe allergic reaction for us. Food is starting to be better labelled too especially food on the go such as sandwiches etc.

What can you do to help

Get yourself on a first aid course as soon as possible so in the event of someone having a severe allergic reaction you will have the skills and knowledge to help that person.

We teach you how to provide first aid treatment to a casualty who is suffering a severe allergic reaction on our First Aid at Work, Paediatric First Aid courses, we also run an 1/2 day course in Responding to Anaphylactic Reactions as a standalone course which is increasing in popularity too.

All of our first aid courses are Ofqual regulated and accredited by Qualifications Network UK (QNUK)


A severe allergic reaction can occur anywhere and very often than not with no warning, having the right skills and knowledge can really help this person to ensure they get the treatment they need and the help they need in very fast order.

It could be a family member, a work colleague, a freiend, a stranger in the street so having those essential first aid skills can make a real difference to someone who is having a really bad day.