Allergy Facts | AAFA.org (2023)

Allergy Facts and Figures

What Is an Allergy?

  • 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.
  • An allergic reaction can cause coughing, sneezing, hives, rashes, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat. In severe cases, it can cause low blood pressure, breathing trouble, asthma attacks, and even death if not treated promptly.
  • There is no cure for allergies. You can manage allergies with prevention and treatment.
  • Allergies are among the country’s most common, but overlooked, diseases.

How Common Are Allergies?

  • More than 50 million people in the U.S. experience various types of allergies each year.1
  • Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.1

How Many People Seek Medical Care for Allergies?

  • Allergic conditions are one of the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S.1
  • Each year in the U.S., it is estimated that anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to food results in 90,000 emergency room visits.2

How Many People Die from Allergies?

  • The most common triggers for anaphylaxis are medicines, food, and insect stings.3 Medicines cause the most allergy-related deaths.4
  • Black people and older adults in the U.S. have the highest rates of death due to allergic reactions to medicines, food, or unknown allergens.4

What Are the Costs of Allergies?

  • The cost of nasal allergies is between $3 billion and $4 billion each year.5
  • Food allergies cost about $25 billion each year.6

What Are Indoor and Outdoor Allergies?

  • Indoor and outdoor allergies can lead to sinus swelling/pain, itchy/watery eyes, nasal congestion, and sneezing. Airborne allergens can cause seasonal (sometimes called “hay fever” or “rose fever”) or constant (called “persistent”) allergies.
  • Many people with allergies often have more than one type of allergy. The most common indoor/outdoor allergy triggers are: tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen, mold spores,dust mites,cockroaches, cat anddog dander,and rodent urine.

How Common Are Seasonal Allergies?

  • In 2018, approximately 24 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever). This equals around 8% (19.2 million) of adults and 7% (5.2 million) of children.1,7
  • Seasonal allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. This type of rhinitis occurs mainly in the spring and fall when pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are in the air.
  • In 2018, white children were more likely to have hay fever than Black children.7
  • 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 contact allergy triggers and cause symptoms days after the exposure. But skin contact with cockroaches and dust mites, certain foods, or latex may also cause skin allergy symptoms.

  • In 2018, 9.2 million children had skin allergies.7
  • Children birth to age 4 are most likely to have skin allergies.7
  • In 2018, Black children in the U.S. were more likely to have skin allergies than white children.7

How Common Are Food Allergies?

Nine foods cause most food allergy reactions. They are milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, and shellfish.

(Video) The Facts about Peanut Allergies Might Surprise You

  • About 32 million people have food allergies in the U.S.8,9
    • About 26 million (10.8%) U.S. adults have food allergies.8
    • About 5.6 million (7.6%) U.S. children have food allergies.9
  • In 2018, 4.8 million (6.5%) children under 18 years of age had food allergies over the previous 12 months.7
  • In 2018, 6% of Black and Hispanic children had food allergies over the previous 12 months, compared to 6.6% of white children.7
    • Food allergy has increased among U.S. children over the past 20 years, with the greatest increase in Black children.9
  • Milk is the most common allergen for children, followed by egg and peanut.10
  • Shellfish is the most common allergen for adults, followed by peanut and tree nut.10
  • Sesame is a rising food allergy. It impacts an estimated 1 million people in the United States.11 It was declared a major allergen in the United States in 2021.

How Common Are Drug Allergies?

  • Severe drug reactions account for 3% to 6% of all hospital admissions worldwide. Drug allergy accounts for less than 10% of these severe drug reactions.12
  • The most commonly reported drug allergy is to penicillin, with up to 10% of people saying they are allergic to these drugs. However, less than 10% of these people (or less than 1% of the total population) are actually allergic to penicillin drugs when evaluated for these allergies.13

How Common Is Latex Allergy?

  • About 4.3% of the general population has a latex allergy.14
  • Latex allergy is more common in certain occupations. Approximately 9.7% of health care workers have a latex allergy.14

How Common Is Insect Allergy?

People who have insect allergies are often allergic to bee, wasp, and ant stings. Cockroaches and dust mites may also cause nasal or skin allergy symptoms.

  • Insect sting allergies affect 5% of the population.15
  • As many as 100 deaths occur each year in the United States due to insect sting anaphylaxis.16

Medical Review: February 2018, updated April 2022 by Mitchell Grayson, MD

References

1. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (2018). Allergy Facts.https://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies

(Video) Why Do We Get Allergies? | The Dr. Binocs Show | Best Learning Videos For Kids | Peekaboo Kidz

2. Clark, S., Espinola, J., Rudders, S. A., Banerji, A., & Camargo, C. A. (2011). Frequency of US Emergency Department Visits for Food-Related Acute Allergic Reactions. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 127(3), 682–683. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.040

3. Wood, R. A., Camargo, C. A., Lieberman, P., Sampson, H. A., Schwartz, L. B., Zitt, M., Collins, C., Tringale, M., Wilkinson, M., Boyle, J., & Simons, F. E. R. (2014). Anaphylaxis in America: the Prevalence and Characteristics of Anaphylaxis in the United States. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 133(2), 461–467. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2013.08.016

4. Turner, P. J., Jerschow, E., Umasunthar, T., Lin, R., Campbell, D. E., & Boyle, R. J. (2017). Fatal Anaphylaxis: Mortality Rate and Risk Factors. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 5(5), 1169–1178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaip.2017.06.031

5. Tkacz, J. P., Rance, K., Waddell, D., Aagren, M., & Hammerby, E. (2021). Real-World Evidence Costs of Allergic Rhinitis and Allergy Immunotherapy in the Commercially Insured United States Population. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 37(6), 957–965. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007995.2021.1903848

6. Gupta, R., Holdford, D., Bilaver, L., Dyer, A., Holl, J. L., & Meltzer, D. (2013). The Economic Impact of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States. JAMA Pediatrics, 167(11), 1026. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2376

(Video) Food Allergy Facts Part 1

7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). FastStats: Allergies and Hay Fever. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm

8. Gupta, R. S., Warren, C. M., Smith, B. M., Jiang, J., Blumenstock, J. A., Davis, M. M., Schleimer, R. P., & Nadeau, K. C. (2019). Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergies Among US Adults. JAMA Network Open, 2(1), e185630. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5630

9. Gupta, R. S., Warren, C. M., Smith, B. M., Blumenstock, J. A., Jiang, J., Davis, M. M., & Nadeau, K. C. (2018). The Public Health Impact of Parent-Reported Childhood Food Allergies in the United States. Pediatrics, 142(6). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-1235

10. Iweala, O. I., Choudhary, S. K., & Commins, S. P. (2018). Food Allergy. Current Gastroenterology Reports, 20(5), 17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11894-018-0624-y

11. Warren, C. M., Chadha, A. S., Sicherer, S. H., Jiang, J., & Gupta, R. S. (2019). Prevalence and Severity of Sesame Allergy in the United States. JAMA Network Open, 2(8), e199144. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.9144

(Video) Food Allergy Myths and Facts

12. Torres Jaen, M. J. (2021). Drug Allergies. World Allergy Organization. https://www.worldallergy.org/education-and-programs/education/allergic-disease-resource-center/professionals/drug-allergies

13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Evaluation and Diagnosis of Penicillin Allergy for Healthcare Professionals. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/clinicians/penicillin-allergy.html

14. Wu, M., McIntosh, J., & Liu, J. (2016). Current Prevalence Rate of Latex Allergy: Why It Remains a Problem? Journal of Occupational Health, 58(2), 138–144. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356959/

15. Ludman, S. W., & Boyle, R. J. (2015). Stinging Insect Allergy: Current Perspectives on Venom Immunotherapy. Journal of Asthma and Allergy, 8, 75–86. https://doi.org/10.2147/JAA.S62288

16. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (2018). Insect Sting Allergies. https://acaai.org/allergies/types/insect-sting-allergy

(Video) All About Allergies

FAQs

What are 3 facts about allergies? ›

They are milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, and shellfish. About 32 million people have food allergies in the U.S. About 26 million (10.8%) U.S. adults have food allergies. About 5.6 million (7.6%) U.S. children have food allergies.

What is the most common food allergy in the world? ›

A peanut allergy is the most common food allergy in children, and the second-most common food allergy in adults. Differing from tree nuts in that they grow underground and are a kind of legume, peanuts can cause very severe reactions in affected individuals.

How can I get rid of allergies fast without medicine? ›

Ten ways to control allergies without medication
  1. Saline nasal irrigation. A nasal rinse clears mucus from your nose and can ease allergy symptoms. ...
  2. HEPA filters. ...
  3. Try Probiotics. ...
  4. Take vitamin C. ...
  5. Keep out breezes. ...
  6. Wash up. ...
  7. Wear a mask. ...
  8. Eat Healthy.
Apr 5, 2021

Did you know facts about allergies? ›

Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. Asthma and allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), food allergy , and eczema , are common for all age groups in the United States. Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., including more than 6 million children.

Who has the most allergies in the world? ›

Australia has the highest rate of confirmed food allergy. One study found 9% of Australian one-year-olds had an egg allergy, while 3% were allergic to peanuts. The increase in allergies is not simply the effect of society becoming more aware of them and better at diagnosing them.

Can allergies Be Cured? ›

Can allergies be cured? Allergies can't be cured, but symptoms can be controlled using a combination of avoidance measures and medications, as well as allergen immunotherapy in properly selected cases.

What is the rarest food allergy? ›

1. Red meat. Being allergic to meats like beef, pork, and lamb is rare and can be difficult to identify. These allergies are usually attributed to a sugar found in meat called alpha-galactose (alpha-gal).

Which antihistamine is best for food allergies? ›

Diphenhydramine has been commonly used as the antihistamine of choice for acute food allergic reactions given its prompt onset of action (15–60 minutes)1 and ready availability, though epinephrine is still the first-line therapy for anaphylaxis.

What food should be avoided during allergy? ›

Foods That Cause Allergies
  • Milk (mostly in children)
  • Eggs.
  • Peanuts.
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans.
  • Soy.
  • Wheat.
  • Fish (mostly in adults)
  • Shellfish (mostly in adults)
Aug 18, 2021

What is the best vitamin to take for allergies? ›

Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine by reducing the amount of histamine your body produces in response to an allergen. It might help reduce mild symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and watery eyes due to allergic rhinitis.

What vitamin deficiency causes allergies? ›

[1] Several studies have reported that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased incidence of asthma and allergy symptoms.

What can I drink for allergies? ›

The best drinks to ease seasonal allergy symptoms
  • Nettle tea. Nettles are a natural remedy for allergic rhinitis. ...
  • Kombucha. ...
  • Lavender tea. ...
  • Green tea. ...
  • Rosehip Tea. ...
  • Lemon water or lemonade. ...
  • Beer. ...
  • Wine.
May 1, 2022

Are allergies a chronic illness? ›

Allergic disease is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world. People with a family history of allergies have an increase risk of developing allergic disease. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema, hives, asthma, and food allergy are some types of allergic diseases.

Why do people have allergies? ›

Overview. Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance — such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander — or a food that doesn't cause a reaction in most people. Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies.

What are the main allergies? ›

Common allergens include:
  • tree and grass pollen (hay fever)
  • house dust mites.
  • foods, such as peanuts, milk and eggs (food allergy)
  • animal fur, particularly from pets like cats and dogs.
  • insect stings, such as bee and wasp stings.
  • certain medicines.

What causes allergy? ›

Overview. Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance — such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander — or a food that doesn't cause a reaction in most people. Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies.

What percent of the world has allergies? ›

Worldwide, allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30 % of the population. Worldwide, sensitization (IgE antibodies) to foreign proteins in the environment is present in up to 40% of the population.

When are allergies most common? ›

Depending on where you live, spring allergy season can start as early as March and last through early summer. The release of tree pollens and outdoor mold spores are two of the most common spring allergy triggers.

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