Allergies and Lifestyle
In the UK and other Western countries there has been a dramatic increase in reported allergies over the past 50 years, but allergies are uncommon in less economically developed countries.
Research suggests that allergies are caused by genetic and environmental factors.
The genetic background of the UK population has not changed enough in the last 50 years to explain the rise in allergies so the increase must be due to environmental factors.
Environmental factors affecting allergies could include: diet, exposure to allergens, pollution, tobbacco smoke and less exposure to infections in early life.
Diversity in our diets has increased so it may just be that more people are finding their allergies.
There's been an increase in processed foods which often contain peanut and sunflower oil which can cause allergies.
Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat, headaches, asthma.
Grass pollen (this is the cause for 9/10 sufferers), tree pollen (different people can be allergic to different tree pollen), weeds, spores from fungi and moulds.
Epidemiology (frequency of occurance)
Mild winters and warmer springs mean that pollen production starts earlier so symptoms can occur at the begining of May, peaking at about mid-June.
3.3 million people are recorded to have hayfever (allergic rhinitis).
Research shows that it's frequently undiagnosed so that number is probably higher.
Itching, swelling in the mouth, tongue and throat; skin reactions such as itching; vomiting and/or diahorroea; coughing, wheezing, runny nose, swollen lips, sore eyes.
The most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, cows milk, eggs, soya and wheat.
People with one allergy are likely to be allergic to other foods.
5-7% of children. Some allergies become less severe with age.
1-2% of adults. These are rarely cured.
From 2001 to 2005 there was a 117.3% increase in peanut allergy.
Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, tight feeling in chest
Exact cause is unknown. Triggers include viral infections, irritants such as dust, fumes, ciggarette smoke and chemicals, allergies to pollen, animals, medicines or foods, exercise (especially in cold, dry air), emotions.
5.7 million people in the UK have asthma. There's been an increase in diagnosis in young children, but in older children it's decreased. This could be due to more effective treatments and greater awareness of the disease.
Hives (urticaria and angioedema)
Itching, swollen red rash occuring suddenly.
Food allergy or viral infection.
1 in 5 have hives at some point in their lives.