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Hospital admissions for allergies up nearly eight per cent in a year

NHS hospitals in England dealt with 20,320 admissions for allergies5 in the 12 months to February. This represents a 7.7 per cent increase from 18,860 for the previous 12 months new figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show.

The rate of admissions for allergies for both genders is highest in those aged 0-4 and it is higher in males than in females in this age group.

The rate for both genders generally decreases with age with a higher rate of admissions in females than in males in older age bands

Today's report also shows that 61.8 per cent (12,560) of admissions due to allergic reactions were emergencies, a 6.2 per cent increase (730) on the same period last year (11,830).

Nearly one in five (4070) of admissions were for anaphylactic6 reactions, an increase of 9.9 per cent (370) from the same period last year.

The Birmingham and the Black Country Area Team had the highest rate of admissions for anaphylactic reactions at 11.2 per 100,000 of the population. Merseyside Area Team was found to have the lowest at 5.1 per 100,000 of the population.

In the 12 months to February 2014:

  • Admissions for allergic rhinitis increased by 10.9 per cent in males and 13.3 per cent in females from the previous 12 month period.
  • 93.7 per cent of these allergic rhinitis admissions were elective
    • of these 62.9 per cent underwent subcutaneous immunotherapy treatment7.
  • Hospital admissions for food allergies increased by 6.4 per cent.

HSCIC also publishes prescribing information, which sheds further insight on the treatment of allergies.

Prescribing information for the 12 months to February 201410 shows that the rate of prescribing emergency adrenaline products was 353 per 100,000 head of the population, one item per 283 people8.

These products can be used for the immediate treatment of a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis.

The highest rate of dispensed emergency adrenaline products in England was in the Surrey and Sussex Area Team at 542.4 items per 100,000, of the population. Greater Manchester had Area Team has the lowest rate with only 183.8 items per 100,000.9"

Chair of the HSCIC, Kingsley Manning said: "The statistics we are publishing today provides fresh insight into hospital admissions for allergies, which have increased by almost eight per cent in the last year.

"In the 12 months to February, 61.8 per cent of all allergy related hospital admissions were emergencies, a rise of just over six per cent.

"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."

You can view the full report here:


1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. Counts of figures under 1,000 are exact and figures over 1,000 have been rounded to the nearest 10. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest decimal point.

3. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and Area Teams in England and from approximately 200 independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. The HSCIC liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. Figures refer to recorded admissions and are reliant upon the accurate and complete recording of cause of hospital admission. Submissions from the independent sector in particular have improved significantly in recent years.

4. The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or Area Team (AT) containing the patient's normal home address. This does not necessarily reflect where the patient was treated as they may have travelled to another CCG/AT for treatment.

In April 2013 changes to the structure of the NHS came into effect ( Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) were abolished and were replaced with organisations such as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS England Area Teams (ATs). In addition there are now four NHS England Regions above the Area Teams in the structural hierarchy.

5. The codes used within this press release are external cause codes (ICD-10) which are supplementary codes that indicate the nature of any external cause of injury, poisoning or other adverse effects. Only the first external cause code which is coded within the episode is counted in HES. The codes are as follows:


ICD10 Code


Allergic asthma


Predominantly allergic asthma

Allergic contact dermatitis


Allergic contact dermatitis due to metals


Allergic contact dermatitis due to adhesives


Allergic contact dermatitis due to cosmetics


Allergic contact dermatitis due to drugs in contact with skin


Allergic contact dermatitis due to dyes


Allergic contact dermatitis due to other chemical products


Allergic contact dermatitis due to food in contact with skin


Allergic contact dermatitis due to plants, except food


Allergic contact dermatitis due to other agents


Allergic contact dermatitis, unspecified cause

Allergic rhinitis


Allergic rhinitis due to pollen


Other seasonal allergic rhinitis


Other allergic rhinitis


Allergic rhinitis, unspecified

Anaphylactic reactions


Anaphylactic shock due to adverse food reaction


Anaphylactic shock, unspecified


Anaphylactic shock due to serum


Anaphylactic shock due to adverse effect of correct drug or medicament properly administered

Food allergies


Allergic and dietetic gastroenteritis and colitis


Other adverse food reactions, not elsewhere classified



Allergic urticaria


Drug photoallergic response


Allergy, unspecified

6. For the purpose of this report, allergies have been grouped in to the following categories:

Allergic asthma

Asthma is a common long-term condition caused by inflammation of the airways. Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, animal fur or feathers can trigger asthma.

Allergic asthma Asthma is a common long-term condition caused by inflammation of the airways. Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, animal fur or feathers can trigger asthma.

Allergic contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that can cause red, itchy and scaly skin, and sometimes burning and stinging. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a person come into contact with an allergen which causes their immune system to react abnormally.

Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the inside of the nose caused by an allergen, such as pollen, dust, mould or certain animal danders. It often causes cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, itchiness and a blocked or runny nose. These symptoms usually start soon after being exposed to an allergen. Some people only get allergic rhinitis for a few months at a time because they are sensitive to seasonal allergens, such as tree or grass pollen. Other people get allergic rhinitis all year round.

Anaphylactic reactions

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can develop rapidly. It is also known as anaphylactic shock.

Food allergies

Food allergies are caused when the immune system (the body's defence against infection) mistakenly treats proteins found in food as a threat to the body, when in fact they should be harmless. It then releases a number of chemicals to prevent what it sees as an infection taking hold. It is these chemicals that cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.


This group includes unspecified allergies, allergic urticaria (hives) and drug photoallergic response.

7. Allergies UK describes immunotherapy as:

"Immunotherapy, often referred to as desensitisation, is the closest thing to a cure for allergy, particularly for allergies to some stinging insects and for allergic rhinitis. Immunotherapy is a well-established treatment for certain severe allergies, and involves the administration of gradually increasing doses of allergen extracts over a period of years, given to patients by injection or drops/tablets under the tongue (sublingual)."

8. xls icon Prescribing data with Area Team breakdown [12kb]

9. An item may be one or more adrenaline products. A patient may get more than one item a year.

10. Prescribing data included in today's report was obtained from the Prescribing Analysis and Cost Tool (PACT) system, which covers prescriptions prescribed in primary care, hospitals and clinics and dispensed in the community. Prescriptions dispensed in hospitals and private prescriptions are not included in PACT data.

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