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Rise in hospital allergy admissions

The number of people admitted to hospital for potentially life-threatening allergic reactions is on the rise, new figures suggest.

Nearly one in five people admitted to NHS hospitals in England because of an allergy last year were recorded as having an anaphylactic reaction.

The figures, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), show that 4,070 people were admitted between March 2013 and February 2014 because they were suffering an anaphylactic reaction - a 9.9% rise on the previous 12 months.

Anaphy laxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It should always be treated as a medical emergency. Anaphylactic shock usually develops within minutes of contact with an allergen, such as an insect sting, types of food like nuts or medications.

HSCIC also said that the number of people admitted for anaphylactic shock due to an adverse reaction to food has risen by 13.2% in a year.

Overall, the total number of people admitted as a result of an allergy has also increased.

NHS hospitals in England admitted 20,318 patients for allergies in the 12 months to February 2014 - a 7.7% rise on the previous year.

There was also a 6.2% rise in the number of patients admitted an as emergency, with such cases now accounting for three in five admissions for allergies.

The rate of admissions was highest among babies and toddlers to the age of four, HSCIC said.

HSCIC chairman Kingsley Manning said: "The statistics we are publishing today provides fresh insight into hospital admissions for allergies, which have increased by almost 8% in the last year.

"In the 12 months to February, 61.8% of all allergy-related hospital admissions were emergencies, a rise of just over 6%.

"This vital information on allergy admissions in England paints a clear picture for policy makers of the scale of hospital in patient care for these conditions."

Lynne Regent, chief executive of the Anaphylaxis Campaign charity, said: " Until now, figures on the level of burden on hospitals from severe allergies have been scarce and this new information highlights the need for further investment and improvements in allergy care."

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