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?

  • More than 50 million Americans have experienced various types of allergies each year.13
  • Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.1

How Many People Get Sick from Allergies?

  • Allergic conditions are the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S.1 In 2015, 8.2 percent of adults and 8.4 percent of children were diagnosed with hay fever.2
  • People visit the emergency room about 200,000 times each year because of food allergies.1

How Many People Die from Allergies?

  • The most common triggers for anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction, are medicines, food and insect stings.3 Medicines cause the most allergy related deaths.3
  • African-Americans and the elderly have the deadliest reactions to medicines, food or unknown allergens.5

What Are the Costs of Allergies?

  • Annual cost of allergies exceeds $18 billion.1
  • Food allergies cost about $25 billion each year.6

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 pollenmold sporesdust mitescockroaches, and cat, dog and rodent dander.

  • Immunotherapy (allergy shots) helps reduce hay fever symptoms in about 85 percent of people with allergic rhinitis.1
  • Allergic rhinitis, often called hay fever1 affects 6.1 million of the children population and 20 million of the adult population.2,1
  • In 2015, white children were more likely to have hay fever than African-American children.2
  • 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.2
  • Children age 0-4 are most likely to have skin allergies.2
  • In 2015, African-American children in the U.S. were more likely to have skin allergies than white children.2

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.3
  • In 2015, 4.2 million children in the US have food allergies.2
  • In 2014, 5.4 percent of US children under age 18 had food allergies.1

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.7
  • Bad drug reactions may affect 10 percent of the world’s population. These reactions affect up to 20 percent of all hospital patients.3

How Common Is Latex Allergy?

  • About 1 to 6 percent of people in the U.S. have a latex allergy.8
  • Health care workers are becoming more concerned about latex allergies. About 8-12 percent of health care workers will get a latex allergy.8

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.9
  • At least 90-100 deaths occur each year in the United States due to insect sting anaphylaxis.10


[1] American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergy Facts. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[2] CDC. National Center for Health Statistics. FastStats: Allergies and Hay Fever. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[3] American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Allergy Statistics. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[4] Wood 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. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[5] Einstein. Anaphylaxis Research: Comprehensive Study of Allergic Deaths in US Finds Medications are Main Culprit. Sept 2014. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[6] Gupta 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. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[7] American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. PENICILLIN ALLERGY FAQ. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[8] CDC. Gateway to Health Communication and Social Marketing Practice. Latex Allergy. 2011. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[9] American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. The Rise of Deadly Insect Sting Allergies: Is There a Cure? August 2013. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[10] American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Types of Allergies: Insect Stings. March 14 2018)

[11] CDC. Healthy Schools. Food Allergies in Schools. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[12] Clark S, Espinola J, Rudders S, etc. Frequency of US emergency department visits of food-related acute allergic reactions. J Allergy Clin Immunol. March 2011. (Retrieved March 14 2018)

[13] CDC, Gateway to Health Communication and Social Marketing Practice. Allergies. (Retrieved March 14 2018)