In Britain, new data shows a substantial rise in the number of life-threatening allergic reactions. The number of people admitted to the hospital because of a severe allergic reaction has increased at least 700%, while the number of people affected by allergies has tripled over the past two decades. In 1990, about 300 people were admitted to the hospital because of an allergic reaction. This number rose to more than 2,100 by 2004, and is likely to have risen further since then, according toAOL Lifestyle UK.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence, or NICE, estimates that about 50,000 people in England will suffer anaphylactic shock (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) at least once during their life. According to one estimate, in Britain alone anaphylaxis causes about 20 deaths per year.

Recently, NICE published the first national guidelines for the treatment of food allergies. They advise doctors to record the circumstances surrounding the allergic reaction to help identify its cause, and to suggest that patients with known allergies carry an injector containing epinephrine (or adrenalin) so that they can give themselves an injection if they experience a future reaction.

What do you think is behind this rise in allergy rates?

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