This month sees Allergy Awareness Week starting on the 26th April. This years theme is all about hay fever, a condition which affects millions of people in the UK, making spring and summer an uncomfortable time and causing more serious conditions in some people.
For people living with hay fever, more time spent outside socialising will leave them more exposed to the pollen to which they are allergic, which means that they could be facing a summer of more severe and longer lasting symptoms.
Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe. Up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction.
The common causes of anaphylaxis include foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, sesame seeds and kiwi fruit, although many other foods have been known to trigger anaphylaxis. Non-food causes include wasp or bee stings, natural latex (rubber), and certain drugs such as penicillin. In some people exercise can trigger a severe reaction – either on its own or in combination with other factors such as food or drugs (e.g. aspirin).
Whilst allergic reactions are covered on many of our standard first aid courses, we also offer a specific Anaphylaxis course that is 1 hour in duration. This course is aimed at those requiring a little more information and is often taught to staff teams where colleagues or children have anaphylaxis.
Our course programme employs a variety of teaching techniques to meet the needs of individual delegates and includes the following:
- Identify common trigger factors
- Recognise signs and symptoms
- Treat anaphylaxis appropriately
- Use an auto-injection device correctly
- Administer intramuscular adrenaline 1:1000
- Understand follow up management and treatment
The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorder. In the 20 years to 2012, there was a 615% increase in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK. The percentage of children diagnosed with allergic rhinitis and eczema have both trebled over the last 30 years. In the UK, allergic diseases across all ages cost the NHS an estimated £900 million a year, mostly through prescribed treatments in primary care, representing 10% of the GP prescribing budget.
The World Allergy Organisation (WAO) estimate of allergy prevalence of the whole population by country ranges between 10 – 40%. Anaphylaxis-type reactions occur in approximately 1 in 1000 of the general population.
Acorn understands that medication training needs to take into consideration not only the needs of the child but also those of the staff team and others such as the LEA, OFSTED and Healthcare Professionals.
Since 1st October 2017, the Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2017 now allow ALL schools in the UK to keep spare adrenaline auto injectors (AAI’s) for emergency use to be used for children who are at risk of anaphylaxis. For a parent of a child at risk from anaphylaxis, this represents an important reassurance that their child will have emergency treatment available on the school premises. Schools may wish to discuss with their community pharmacist the different AAI’s available and what is most appropriate for the age-group and needs of the school.
Once this law came in, there was a national shortage of EpiPen’s however since June 2020, supply has now stabilised further and there is good availability of both EpiPen Jr 0.15mg and EpiPen 0.3mg AAIs.
Please continue to adhere to the manufacturer’s expiry date labelled on any EpiPen to ensure their efficiency.
(Statistics provided by Allergyuk.org and further references provided by The Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and Anaphylaxis Campaign website)