Allergy Awareness Week 2022

20th April 2022

Allergy Awareness Week 2022 will be held between the 20th and the 25th of April and is designed to raise awareness for all different types of allergies that people suffer from. 

Allergies affect more people than you may think, with around one in four people in the UK having some form of allergy. Allergies can also come in a number of different forms, and lots of people are affected by some form of allergy. In fact, you can be allergic to pretty much anything, however, some allergies are more common than others. In this article, we will provide you with all the information about allergies you will need, from the cause of an allergy, to which allergies are most common. We will also help you to understand whether your allergy is curable, or what you can do in order to best alleviate your symptoms. 

What is this year's focus of Allergy Awareness Week?

Every year, Allergy Awareness Week focuses on one allergy, or an allergy group in particular to raise the most awareness for. In 2022, Allergy Awareness Week is focused on the topic of childhood food allergies, with a deeper focus on the struggles of parents weaning babies with food allergies. 

Around five to eight percent of children in the UK will have some form of food allergy, an allergy can even be carried by a newborn baby. When a parent is trying to wean their baby onto solid food, it can be very hard to avoid certain foods that the baby may be allergic to. It is incredibly important to ensure that the baby food or adult food you give your baby does not contain any allergens that your baby could react to. If you believe that your child may be allergic to something then there are symptoms to look out for, these include:

  • Sneezing
  • Rashes
  • Coughing
  • Choking
  • Red/watery eyes

If you notice any or multiple of these symptoms, you should take your child to your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to perform a test on your child to see what food, or other factor, your child is allergic to.

What causes an allergy?

An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to a substance that it believes to be harmful. Whilst your body reacting to harmful substances is necessary, the majority of allergies will be from your immune system reacting to substances that are in no way harmful. There is no real reason as to why an allergy will take place, but some can be passed on by genetics. The number of people that get allergies is increasing year on year. This is thought to be due to people living in cleaner conditions. As hygiene levels increase, your body does not need to defend itself against as many germs or bacteria as it used to. This means that you are more at risk of other substances causing allergic reactions.

What are the most common allergies?

 

Some allergies are much more common than others. This is because the substances taken in by the body are more likely to trigger your immune system into thinking that they are harmful. Some of the most common allergies include:

  • Pollen

A pollen allergy is also known as hay fever and is perhaps the most common allergy in humans.

  • Peanuts

A peanut allergy can be mild or severe. Common symptoms include itchy skin, runny eyes, choking, and a closing throat. 

  • Shellfish

Allergies to shellfish, such as crab or lobster, can cause symptoms such as skin rashes, nasal congestion, and choking.

  • Insect stings/bites

Insect bites cause marking to the skin whether you are allergic or not. An allergic reaction will be more severe and will lead to swollen, itchy skin.

The majority of the most common allergies will be food-based. This is due to the fact that the substances in the food are ingested directly into the body.

What are some obscure allergies?

There are also some allergies that are much more uncommon. Obscure allergies can be even more dangerous as they can be to regular, everyday things. Whilst they affect a much smaller percentage of the population they require just the same amount of awareness as common allergies. Some of the most uncommon allergies include:

  • Water - Known as aquagenic urticaria.
  • Sunlight - Known as polymorphic light eruption.
  • Sweat - Known as cholinergic urticaria. 
  • Fish Odour

As previously mentioned, you can be allergic to basically anything, although there are much more common allergies than those above and the actual number of cases of those uncommon allergies is very low.

How can you test for allergies?

For many allergies, you will begin to experience symptoms at a very young age. Your parents then may have taken you for a test which may have pointed out your allergy. Some allergies, however, can develop at a later age. Again, the process you should follow should be much the same as when you are a child. If you develop any allergy-like symptoms then you should contact your doctor in order to get a test. The majority of allergies that you will develop at a later age will be food-based. Some allergies that can come through in later life include shellfish, apples, soy, and wheat. This can be due to your body changing, or because you are more likely to try food that you are allergic to, such as shellfish. 

How can you treat different allergies?

Treating an allergy is about more than just helping an ailment, it is about providing comfort to the sufferer. The symptoms of allergies can be incredibly irritating and can cause great discomfort. Thankfully, for many different allergies, you will be able to find relief in medications. There are many different tablets, nasal sprays, and eye drops that you can use in order to alleviate symptoms such as runny noses, itching, and irritated eyes. For more severe allergies, you may need to carry around more specialised equipment. The most famous of these is the EpiPen, an injectable medication that is used to treat severe allergic reactions to food, bites and other allergies.