The Anaphylaxis Campaign hopes to get a big public reaction!

Friday 15th May sees the launch of the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s annual ‘Orange Wig Day 2015’; a day that aims to highlight the risks, symptoms and treatment of severe allergies and anaphylaxis.

Many of us can relate to having allergies, with 1 in 4 people experiencing at least one during some point in their life but less of us are aware of the impact of incredibly severe allergies and anaphylaxis. Recent reports show that in 2013/14 hospital admissions for allergies rose by 7.7% to over 20,000. Of these admissions, 19.2% were for anaphylactic reactions (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2014). Not only can the condition affect a person physically but it can also impact on their quality of life, making lifestyle choices more difficult.

So what are the common triggers of anaphylaxis?

Common causes can be split into two groups; foods (peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, dairy and eggs) and non-foods (wasp and bee stings, natural latex (rubber), penicillin and other drugs. Sometimes even exercise can trigger a severe reaction (although this shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to undertake your 150 minutes a week!) If this is the case then have a chat with your GP about how to exercise safely.

What about the symptoms?

When an allergic antibody enters the body it unnecessarily releases chemicals as it believes the substance is a threat (when it’s not!) These chemicals act on blood vessels which causes a range of symptoms. Flushing of the skin and skin rash, abdominal pain, irregular heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, unconsciousness, swelling of the mouth and throat and difficulties with breathing can all occur as a result, which is why anaphylaxis is so dangerous.

But anaphylaxis can be treated, right?

It’s important to remember that although severe allergies and anaphylaxis are dangerous, with the right knowledge they are also manageable. Avoiding triggers is the best thing that you can do to prevent a reaction. If a reaction does occur, however, the first line of treatment in an adrenaline auto-injector or ‘adrenaline pen’. Carrying your pen with you at all times will ensure that it can be used as soon as the first symptoms start to show. It’s important to know exactly how to use these so take a look at the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s advice on use document for further information.

Am I at risk of severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis?

Although severe reactions are unexpected events, researchers have been able to highlight those who may be at higher risk:

  • If you’ve had a bad reaction in the past (even a mild reaction should not be ignored as future reactions could be severe
  • If you have a significant reaction to a tiny dose
  • If you have asthma or atopic eczema you could be more at risk

If you’re worried you may be at risk then your GP can refer you to a specialist allergy clinic for a test.

Although severe allergies and anaphylaxis can have a serious impact on those with the condition, we need to be aware that it is manageable. It is important that people who are at risk are able to correctly identify causes of the reaction, know how to best avoid future triggers and what to do if a reaction occurs. Further information about severe allergies and anaphylaxis and details about ‘Orange Wig Day 2015’ can be found on the Anaphylaxis Campaign website at


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