Number of teenagers sent to hospital because of allergies has shot up by 65% in five years, NHS figures show
- Some 4,743 teenagers given treatment in 2017/19 compared to 2,873 in 2013/14
- Experts believe hyper-cleanliness may be making kids’ immune systems weaker
- Also a 41 per cent spike in youngsters who were treated for anaphylactic shock
The number of children hospitalised with allergies has soared by two thirds in the past five years, alarming figures show.
NHS data revealed 4,743 teenagers were given treatment in 2017/19 compared with 2,873 in 2013/14.
Experts believe hyper-cleanliness in modern society may be making children’s immune systems weaker.
Figures showed there was also a 41 per cent spike in youngsters who were treated for anaphylactic shock in the same time.
Karanbir, 13, known as Karan, was killed after cheese was thrown at him during break time at William Perkin Church of England High School in Greenford, West London
The number of children hospitalised with allergies has soared by 65 per cent in the past five years (file image)
The deadly reaction is an overreaction by the immune system which causes the swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness.
For teenagers, there were a third more cases of anaphylactic shock while for those 19 and over, there was a 10 per cent jump, the BBC reported.
Allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies food as a threat and launches a protective response against it.
Symptoms can include sneezing, itchy eyes, wheezing, hives, swelling, and even vomiting and diarrhoea.
Food allergies affect about 7 per cent of children in the UK, according to Kings College London.
Amena Warner, head of clinical services at Allergy UK, said teenagers may be more likely to need treatment than younger children because they start to become independent.
She claimed this means they might not question food the same way as parents did and may not read food labels in detail.
There have been calls for the government to introduce legislation on how schools should manage allergies following the death of Karanbir Cheema in 2017.
Karanbir, 13, known as Karan, was killed after cheese was thrown at him during break time at William Perkin Church of England High School in Greenford, West London.
There have been calls for the government to introduce legislation on how schools should manage allergies following the death of Karanbir Cheema (pictured) in 2017
Following an inquest, the coroner said it was ‘vital’ nationwide allergy action plans were rolled out in hospitals and schools.
Allergy specialist Prof Adam Fox told the said he had observed many occasions when schools seemed to be failing families.
Professor Fox, a paediatric allergist at Evelina London children’s hospital, told the BBC :’In the most extreme cases, parents seem to be genuinely frightened to send them to a school where they don’t feel safe.
One possible explaination for the rise in allergies is the ‘cleanliness theory’.
This suggests that protecting children from exposure to dirt makes their immune systems weaker.
Coming across more different kinds of bacteria or viruses gives the body opportunities to learn how to fight them off.
So keeping everything sterile or particularly clean may deprive the immune system of those opportunities and leave it weaker – like an untrained soldier.
WHAT IS ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK?
Anaphylaxis, also known as anaphylactic shock, can kill within minutes.
It is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger, such as an allergy.
The reaction can often be triggered by certain foods, including peanuts and shellfish.
However, some medicines, bee stings, and even latex used in condoms can also cause the life-threatening reaction.
According to the NHS, it occurs when the immune system overreacts to a trigger.
Symptoms include: feeling lightheaded or faint; breathing difficulties – such as fast, shallow breathing; wheezing; a fast heartbeat; clammy skin; confusion and anxiety and collapsing or losing consciousness.
It is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
Insect stings are not dangerous for most victims but a person does not necessarily have to have a pre-existing condition to be in danger.
An incremental build-up of stings can cause a person to develop an allergy, with a subsequent sting triggering the anaphylactic reaction.
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