New research by EXASOL reveals the extent of the allergy crisis amongst middle-England with new links between prosperity and extreme allergies

26 Apr 2016 | Share

EXASOL, provider of the world’s fastest in-memory analytic database, releases first ever allergy data findings ahead of Allergy Awareness Week 2016.

London, 26 April 2015 – New research from analytic database company EXASOL on a large government-issued dataset* has uncovered that allergies requiring medication are increasing year-on-year across the country with a 24% increase in the past five years alone. In total there are now over 14 million prescriptions a year being prescribed by GPs, with a majority being given out in June and July. Research has shown the worst ever month was July 2013 when a three-week heat wave affected the UK, leading to over 1.62 million prescriptions for allergy medication (antihistamines).

EXASOL analyzed data released by the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre and sourced from the NHS Business Services Authority. The data runs over 5 years from 2010 through to 2015 and contains 652 million rows of data. The data was analyzed by a data scientist working for EXASOL, using its high performance in-memory analytic database.

The research additionally looked at prescribing of epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens), the adrenaline shots that can save the lives of people suffering extreme allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, to antigens like bee stings, peanuts or seafood. These EpiPen prescriptions have been increasing, with an 18% increase in the past five years.

However, the most surprising result of the research is the geographical difference across the country with the Home Counties prescribing three times the number of EpiPens per person compared to the North West. It was found that Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire had the highest prescribing counties compared to Manchester, Lancashire and South Yorkshire and of the 270 districts in England, the highest prescribing was in the Surrey commuter-belt district of Waverley versus the lowest in Oldham and Tameside. The difference here was over five times the prescribing per person in Waverley compared to Oldham.

This corroborates research that links prosperity and relative wealth with higher instances of extreme allergies. Waverley is a prosperous commuter belt district that was top of the Halifax rural quality of life survey in 2013. It enjoys high average weekly earnings with a highly qualified workforce.

In contrast, Oldham which has the lowest prescribing of EpiPens in the country was most recently in March 2016 described as the most deprived town in England by the ONS.

These differences in the data can be visualized in the form of a heat map of epinephrine auto-injector prescribing across LSOAs** in England. It can be observed that there is a belt of high prescribing around (but not including) London, as indicated by the increased red areas. The Midlands, North, and South West are largely covered in green, confirming they suffer from fewer extreme allergies.

Sean Jackson, chief marketing officer (CMO), EXASOL says: “When analyzing the data, we can easily see evidence that allergies have gone up across the country over the past five years. However, this is only one part of the story: when we delve deeper, we find that data can uncover more information and in this case it demonstrates a clear link between affluence and increased prescribing of the medication required by the sufferers of the most severe allergies.”

Key findings from analytic database company, EXASOL, include:

General Allergy Trends:

  • Over the past five years, prescriptions of antihistamines have risen 24% with over 14 million prescriptions given out by GPs in 2015.
  • July 2013 was the highest ever peak of antihistamine prescribing in England with 1.62 million prescriptions. This was at the time of the three-week heatwave lasting from the 3rd to 23rd July 2013.

Severe Allergies:

  • For the most severe allergies, those requiring adrenaline shots in the form of epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens), prescriptions have risen a fifth in five years.
  • Doctors prescribe three times the number of EpiPens per person in the Home Counties compared to the North West.
  • At district level (there are 270 districts in England), the Surrey district of Waverley, once voted the best for quality of life of any rural area in Britain, has the highest (worst) prescribing. In contrast, Oldham, according to the ONS in March 2016 the most deprived town in England, has the lowest (best) prescribing.
  • This goes against general trends of higher medical prescribing within areas of higher deprivation.
  • Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire are the highest prescribing counties compared to Manchester, Lancashire and South Yorkshire.
  • The first-ever heat map, below, starkly shows the disparity across the country for severe allergies. The red areas show high prescribing which is centered on the Home Counties.

Notes to editors

** LSOA: Lower Layer Super Output Areas are built from groups of contiguous Output Areas and have been automatically generated to be as consistent in population size as possible, and typically contain from four to sixOutput Areas. The Minimum population is 1000 and the mean is 1500. There is a Lower Layer Super Output Area for each POSTCODE in England.

* Lists of datasets used:

1. Prescribing data from – a list of all prescriptions given by GPs and subsequently dispensed in England (More than 5 years – from August 2010 to December 2015). This is the largest dataset, amounts to about 652 million rows or 89 GB of uncompressed data. The data is grouped by month, roughly 1 million prescriptions per month.

2. Practice codes, names and addresses – – a lookup for the addresses of the practices listed above. In total 9,897 practices are listed (England only).

3. Numbers of Patients Registered at a GP Practice – gives a breakdown of the patients registered with each practice by age, sex, LSOA (lower level super output area – small geographic areas with a maximum population of 1000).


EXASOL is passionate about helping companies to run their businesses smarter and drive profit by analyzing data and information at unprecedented speeds. The company develops the world’s fastest database for analytics and data warehousing and offers first-class know-how and expertise in data insight and analytics. The in-memory analytic database is the first database to combine in-memory, columnar compression and massively parallel processing, and is proven to be the world’s FASTEST, topping the list in the TPC-H Benchmark tests for performance. Companies that depend on EXASOL to analyze their data in real-time include Adidas Group, GfK, IMS Health, King, Olympus, MyThings, Sony Music and Xing. Follow EXASOL on Twitter at @EXASOLAG.