Allergy Facts and Figures
An allergy is when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. It could be something you eat, inhale into your lungs, inject into your body or touch. This reaction could cause coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose and a scratchy throat. In severe cases, it can cause rashes, hives, low blood pressure, breathing trouble, asthma attacks and even death.
There is no cure for allergies. You can manage allergies with prevention and treatment. More Americans than ever say they manage allergies. It is among the country’s most common, but overlooked, diseases.
How Many People Do Allergies Affect?
- Researchers think nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States.
- Allergies are increasing. They affect as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children.
- Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
How Many People Get Sick from Allergies?
- Allergic conditions are the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S.
- In 2015, 8.2% of adults and 8.4% of children were diagnosed with hay fever.
- People visit the emergency room about 200,000 times each year because of food allergies. Almost 10,000 people stay in the hospital each year because of food allergies.
How Many People Die from Allergies?
- The most common triggers for anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction, are medicines, food and insect stings. Medicines cause the most allergy related deaths.
- African-Americans and the elderly have the deadliest reactions to medicines, food or unknown allergens.
What Are the Costs of Allergies?
- Annual cost of allergies exceeds $18 billion.
- Food allergies cost about $25 billion each year.
What Are Indoor and Outdoor Allergies?
Types of indoor and outdoor allergies include sinus swelling, seasonal and returning allergies, hay fever and nasal allergies. Many people with allergies often have more than one type of allergy. The most common indoor/outdoor allergy triggers are: tree, grass and weed pollen, mold spores, dust mites, cockroaches, and cat, dog and rodent dander.
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots) helps reduce hay fever symptoms in about 85% of people with allergic rhinitis.
- Allergic rhinitis affects 6.1 million of the children population and 20 million of the adult population.2
- In 2015, white children were more likely to have hay fever than African-American children.
- The same triggers for indoor/outdoor allergies also often cause eye allergies.
How Common Are Skin Allergies?
Skin allergies include skin inflammation, eczema, hives, chronic hives and contact allergies. Plants like poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are the most common skin allergy triggers. But skin contact with cockroaches and dust mites, certain foods or latex may also cause skin allergy symptoms.
- In 2015, 8.8 million children had skin allergies.
- Children age 0-4 are most likely to have skin allergies.
- In 2015, African-American children in the U.S. were more likely to have skin allergies than white children.
How Common Are Food Allergies?
Children have food allergies more often than adults. Eight foods cause most food allergy reactions. They are milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
- Peanut is the most common allergen followed by milk and shelfish.
- In 2015, 4.2 million children in the US have food allergies.
- In 2014, 5.4% of US children under age 18 had food allergies.
How Common Are Drug Allergies?
- Penicillin is the most common allergy trigger for those with drug allergies. Up to 10 percent of people report being allergic to this common antibiotic.
- Bad drug reactions may affect 10 percent of the world’s population. These reactions affect up to 20 percent of all hospital patients.
How Common Is Latex Allergy?
- About 1 percent of people in the U.S. have a latex allergy.
- Health care workers are becoming more concerned about latex allergies. About 8-12 percent of health care workers will get a latex allergy.
How Common Is Insect Allergy?
People who have insect allergies are often allergic to bee and wasp stings and poisonous ant bites. Cockroaches and dust mites may also cause nasal or skin allergy symptoms.
- Insect sting allergies affect 5 percent of the population.
- At least 90-100 deaths occur each year in the United States due to insect sting reactions.1
Condensed from an Asthma and Allergy Foundation article for Dee Jensen