We estimate that allergies affect the lives of up to 21 million people in the million people in the UK and allergic disease has been described as a ‘modern epidemic’ by the World Health Organisation. Between 5 and 8 per cent of children in the UK live with a food allergy.
What causes allergy is yet to be determined but research continues into what lies behind the increase in this disease across the modern world. Allergies are most common in children, but they can occur at any age, and they can run in families – if you have an allergy it is likely that one of your parents had allergy too.
There are many kinds of allergies, from food, which is probably the most widely recognised, to skin, respiratory, eyes, drugs and venom and allergy. While in most people, allergy reactions will be mild to moderate they can be fatal in a condition called anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction which requires an immediate emergency response.
In these sections you can find information and resources on what causes an allergic reaction, common signs and symptoms in both adults and children and the differences between allergy, intolerance and anaphylaxis.