New guidelines have been published today for doctors treating anaphylactic shock, as it is revealed that the number of people admitted to hospital with the condition has increased by at least 700 per cent in the past 20 years.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has revealed that hospital admissions due to anaphylaxis shock have increased from about 300 a year in 1990 to more than 2,100 in 2004. This figure is likely to have risen even further since 2004.
Peanuts are one of the most common triggers of anaphylactic shock
Anaphylaxis shock is often triggered by an allergy, and causes about 20 deaths a year in otherwise healthy people. Anaphylaxis shock involves a heart attack or suffocation caused by swelling of the tissues in the mouth and throat.
Currently, around 50,000 people in England suffer an anaphylactic attack over their lifetime, equating to one in 1,300 of the population. The most common triggers are shellfish and nuts- studies suggest that allergies to peanuts have more than doubled in the last decade.
The new guidelines, published by NICE, advise doctors to record the circumstances immediately before the reaction to help identify the trigger. The guidelines also suggest that each patient is given an adrenaline injector after emergency treatment, so they can give themselves a shot of adrenaline in the future.
Fergus Macbeth, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at Nice, said: "After an anaphylactic episode, there is often a risk of it happening again. Further investigation is therefore needed in all cases to try to identify the cause and assess the risk of the person having another anaphylactic reaction."
Mandy East, national co-ordinator at the Anaphylaxis Campaign, said: "We welcome this NICE guideline which gives clear recommendations on what to do following emergency treatment for a suspected anaphylactic episode.”
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