Emergency anaphylaxis guidance as hospital admissions rise

Guidance on how to recognise and respond to the signs of anaphylaxis has been repeated following a significant increase in hospital admissions.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advice includes the use of adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs, such as Epi-Pen and Jext products), which are prescribed to people at risk of anaphylaxis.

It follows the publication of the most recent NHS figures, which show 25,721 admissions in 2022-23 – a 108% increase compared to 2002-23, when there were 12,361 admissions.

The rise is even higher for food-related anaphylaxis and other adverse reactions, increasing from 1971 admissions 20 years ago to 5013 last year – a rise of 154%.

MHRA say people at risk of anaphylaxis should always carry two auto-injectors, check regularly to make sure they have not expired and ensure they know how to use the brand prescribed to them.

Laura Squire, MHRA chief officer for healthcare quality and access, said: These figures highlight just how serious the consequences of allergies can be, and the rising numbers of hospitalisations highlights the need to know how to act in an emergency.

“Knowing how to use an adrenaline auto-injector and what to do afterwards is crucial when responding in an emergency, whether you’re having the reaction yourself or helping someone else.

“Anaphylaxis is scary for everyone involved and when it strikes, it’s not easy to remember what the right steps are. That’s why we want to encourage everyone to download our guidance now so they can be confident they’re doing the right thing if they’re ever in that situation.”

MHRA has issued a four-step guide if there is an anaphylaxis emergency: use the AAI as soon as there are any signs of anaphylaxis, including swelling in the throat or tongue, wheezing or breathing difficulty, dizziness, tiredness and confusion; call 999; lie down flat and raise your legs; use a second AAI if symptoms have not improved after five minutes.

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