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Allergy Facts and Figures

Overview

Allergy is characterized by an overreaction of the human immune system to a foreign protein substance ("allergen") that is eaten, breathed into the lungs, injected or touched. This immune overreaction can results in symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat. In severe cases it can also result in rashes, hives, lower blood pressure, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, and even death.

  • There are no cures for allergies. Allergies can be managed with proper prevention and treatment.
  • More Americans than ever before say they are suffering from allergies. It is among the country's most common, yet often overlooked, diseases. 

  

  • Nasal allergies are estimated to affect approximately 50 million people in the United States, and the prevalence of allergies is increasing, affecting as many as 30% of adults and 40% of childreni
  • Allergic diseases, including asthma, are the 5th leading chronic disease in the US among all ages, and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old.i

Indoor and Outdoor Allergies – (Allergic rhinitis; seasonal/perennial allergies; hay fever; nasal allergies) Many people with allergies usually have more than one type of allergy. The most common indoor/outdoor allergy triggers are: tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; dust mite and cockroach allergen; and, cat, dog and rodent dander.

  • In 2012, 17.6 million adults (7.5%) and 6.6 million children (9%) were diagnosed with hay feverii
  • Worldwide, allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30% of the population
  • In 2010, 11.1 million doctor visits resulted in the primary diagnosis of allergic rhinitisi
  • In 2010, white children were more likely to have hay fever (10%) than black children (7%)i
  • Eye allergies are also often caused by the same triggers as indoor/outdoor allergies

Skin Allergies – (Atopic dermatitis; eczema; hives; urticaria; contact allergies)Plants such as poison ivy, oak and sumac are the most common skin allergy triggers. However, skin contact with cockroach and dust mite allergen, certain foods or latex may also trigger symptoms of skin allergy.

  • In 2012, 8.8 million children (12%) reported being diagnosed with skin allergiesii
  • Children between the ages of 0-4 are most likely to have skin allergiesii
  • In 2010, black children in the US were more likely to have skin allergies (17%) than white children (12%)i

Food and Drug Allergies – Food allergy is more common among children than adults. Most food allergy reactions are caused by 8 foods: milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. Of these foods, peanut is the most prevalent allergen, followed by milk and then shellfish.iii  

  • It is estimated that approximately 6 million children have food allergies in the US, with young children being the most greatly affectediv
  • 38.7% of food allergic children have a history of severe reactionsi
  • 30.4% of food allergic children have multiple food allergiesi
  • For drug allergies, penicillin is the most common allergy trigger. Up to 10% of people report being allergic to this widely used class of antibiotic.v
  • Worldwide, adverse drug reactions may affect 10% of the world’s population and affect up to 20% of all hospitalized patients.iii

Latex Allergy 

  • An estimated 1% of the US population has a latex allergyvi
  • Latex allergies have become a rising concern among health care workers. Approximately 8-12% of health care workers will develop a latex allergy

Insect Allergies  (bee/wasp stings and venomous ant bites; cockroach and dust mite allergen may also cause nasal or skin allergy symptoms.)

  • Insect sting allergies affect 5% of the populationvii
  • Insect sting reactions account for at least 40 deaths each year in the United Statesviii

Morbidity

  • Allergic conditions are the most common medical conditions affecting children in the USix
  • In 2012, 11.1 million doctor visits were made with the primary diagnosis of allergic rhinitisii
  • There are approximately 200,000 emergency department visits and almost 10,000 hospitalizations each year due to food allergiesx

Mortality

  • The most common triggers for an anaphylactic attack are medications, food, and insect stingsxi
  • Medications are the leading cause of allergy related deathsxi
  • Fatal anaphylaxis due to medications, food, or unspecified allergens were significantly associated with African Americans and older agexii
  • Fatal anaphylaxis due to venom is significantly higher among older white menxii
  • Over the years, there has been a significant increase in fatal drug anaphylaxisxii

Social and Economic Costs

  • In 2010, Americans with allergic rhinitis spent approximately 17.5 billion on health related costs, lost more than 6 million work and school days, and made 16 million visits to their doctorxiii
  • Food allergies cost an estimated 25 billion each yearxiv


iAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergy Facts. http://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies (Retrieved April 8 2015)
iiCDC. National Center for Health Statistics.FastStats:Allergies and Hay Fever. 2012.
 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm. Last Updated 2014. (Retrieved April 8 2015)
iiiAmerican Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Allergy Statistics. 
http://www.aaaai.org/about-the-aaaai/newsroom/allergy-statistics.aspx. (Retrieved April 8 2015)
ivGupta R, Springston E, Warrier M, etc. The Prevalence, Severity, and Distribution of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States. Pediatrics. April 2011. Doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0204. 
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/1/e9.full.pdf (Retrieved April 8 2015)
vAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Types of Allergies: Drug Allergies. 
http://acaai.org/allergies/types/drug-allergies. (Retrieved April 8 2015)
viCDC. Gateway to Health Communication and Social Marketing Practice. Latex Allergy. 2011.
 http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/latexallergy.html (Retrieved April 8 2015)
viiAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. The Rise of Deadly Insect Sting Allergies: Is There a Cure? August 2013. http://acaai.org/news/rise-deadly-insect-sting-allergies-there-cure. (Retrieved April 8 2015)
viiiAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Types of Allergies: Insect Stings.
 http://acaai.org/allergies/types/insect-sting-allergies (Retrieved April 8 2015)
ixJackson K, Howie L, Akinbami L. CDC. Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997-2011. NCHS Data Brief. No 121. May 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db121.pdf (Retrieved April 8 2015)
xClark S, Espinola J, Rudders S, etc. Frequency of US emergency department visits of food-related acute allergic reactions. J Allergy Clin Immunol. March 2011.
 http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(10)01655-6/pdf (Retrieved April 8 2015)
xiWood R, Camargo C, Lieberman P, etc. Anaphylaxis in America: the prevalence and characteristics of anaphylaxis in the United States. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Feb 2014; 133(2): 461-7. Doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.08.016.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24144575 (Retrieved April 8 2015)xiiEinstein.Anaphylaxis Research: Comprehensive Study of Allergic Deaths in US Finds Medications are Main Culprit. Sept 2014. http://www.einstein.yu.edu/news/releases/1043/comprehensive-study-of-allergic-deaths-in-u-s--finds-medications-are-main-culprit/ (Retrieved April 8 2015)
xiiiSchaffer F. National Impact of Allergies. Academy of Allergy and Asthma in Primary Care.
 http://www.aaapc.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/National-Impact-of-Allergies.pdf (Retrieved April 8 2015)
xivGupta R, Holdford D, Bilaver L, etc. The economic impact of childhood food allergy in the United States. Jama Pediatr. 2013 Nov; 167(110):1026-31. Doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2376. 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24042236 (Retrieved April 8 2015)

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