Almost half of UK adults (44%) have at least one allergy, according to charity Allergy UK. The numbers are rising, with hospital admissions for allergic reactions in England increasing by 12% between 2015-16 and 2017-18, from 25,167 to 28,177.
Professor Sheena Cruickshank, academic lead for public engagement at the British Society of Immunology, says developed countries are “seeing an increase in autoimmune diseases” such as allergies, which a 2010 study in the Clinical and Experimental Immunology journal supports. The big question is why.
In an autoimmune disease such as an allergy, the immune system reacts to a benign trigger it should ignore (such as pollen), resulting in inflammation. This causes symptoms ranging from swelling to mucus production, redness