An allergy is a condition in which a person’s immune system reacts to substances that are harmless to most people. These substances, called allergens, can be encountered in the environment — foods, pollens, medications, dust mites, pets, insects, ticks, molds, etc. You have to remember that if you suffer from this disease, you are not alone. Here, we list the most recent allergy statistics to help you to understand this health problem better.
The following facts and stats reveal how the allergy percentages look today and how allergies impact patients, their families, and the healthcare industry. And for more information on health issues, please visit HealthCareers.co.
So let’s start with some of the most important facts we picked from the list.
The Top 10 Essential Allergy Stats
- Virtually all known materials can be allergens.
- The best treatment for allergies is prevention.
- Allergies are the most common health issues affecting children in the US.
- More than 50 million US citizens are affected by allergies each year.
- Food allergy is the most common type of allergy worldwide.
- There are more than 170 food allergens described.
- Most of the fatal food-induced reactions happen outside of the home.
- 10% of the world’s population, along with 20% of hospitalized patients have a drug allergy.
- 200,000 people seek emergency medical care due to food allergies in the US annually.
- Caring for children with food allergies costs the US families nearly $25 billion yearly.
Basic Allergy Facts
1. Allergy is an aggressive reaction of the immune system to harmless substances.
The substances that lead to allergic reactions are called allergens. In certain circumstances, the immune system recognizes them as harmful and overreacts with mild or severe symptoms, including death. So if you were wondering why are allergies on the rise, these reports from 2018 have the answer.
2. Virtually all known materials can be allergens.
Drugs, foods, insects, mold, latex, pets, pollen count, and their molecules can be allergens. Depending on the allergens, they can get into your body in many ways. Different kinds of allergens define the main allergy types. However, there are also seasonal and year-round allergies. One of the intriguing facts about allergies is that they can be life-long, but may be resolved simply by aging.
3. The severity and symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary widely.
The symptoms of allergic reactions can affect the gastrointestinal tract (stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating), respiratory tract (itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose, cough, throat closing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath), and skin (itch, rashes, hives, redness), eyes (itchy, watery eyes, red-eye). However, they can also be general (swelling, pain, feeling faint).
Please keep in mind that food sensitivities can often provoke an unwanted immune response, similar to that of food allergies. If your doctor administers testing only to find that you are not suffering from food allergies, but you notice that you still experience a reaction such as hives or fatigue after eating, it is time to look into food sensitivities. A comprehensive elimination diet is the best place to start.
4. Allergy diagnosis relies on many consultations and tests.
Usually, it’s a challenge to determine the allergen unless you sneeze every time you pet a cat or have to go to an emergency room after a bee sting. The CDC allergy statistics show that it often takes several years to establish the diagnosis and determine the responsible allergen(s).
5. Despite the new treatment options, therapy is often not effective enough.
There are several treatment options for allergies, including medicines, immunotherapy, etc. The treatment choice is based on your medical history, allergy test results, and the severity of the symptoms. Except for the lack of effectiveness in some cases, the therapy should be administered for a long period.
6. The best treatment for allergies is prevention.
When it comes to seasonal allergies, the statistics reinforce the need for avoiding allergens. This is the key to preventing allergic reactions, symptoms, and avoiding the need for medicines. The measures include removing the source of allergens both at home and in other places, such as the workplace. The proper cleaning of clothes, hair, and nose can reduce allergic reactions.
An allergy management plan can also work toward putting the allergy under control. However, this depends on the type of allergy in question. Working closely with your doctor will help you create your allergy management plan.
Epidemiological Allergy Statistics Worldwide
7. Allergies are the most common health concerns for American children.
It was estimated that food and skin allergies are the most prevalent allergic conditions. Moreover, in 2015, 8.4% of children and 8.2% of adults in the US were diagnosed with hay fever.
8. The prevalence of allergy is increasing globally.
The prevalence of allergic conditions has marked a significant boost in the last fifty years, especially in industrialized countries. However, a considerable proportion of allergic diseases is due to food and skin allergies in children under 18.
9. Sensitization to one or more common allergens affects up to 50% of school children.
The allergy statistics released in 2019 raised thе issue of the numbers of sensitized children. The problem with sensitization is that, after introducing the allergen, the immune system of the organism tends to be skewed towards allergic inflammation when reencountering the same allergen.
10. 9.6% of American children reported respiratory allergy symptoms in the past year.
These statistics demonstrate the higher percentage of respiratory allergies in male vs. female children (11% vs. 8.1%) reported in the past 12 months.
11. More than 50 million US citizens are affected by allergies each year.
Taking into account the higher rate of allergies in adult Americans (up to 30%) and children (up to 40%), the allergy statistics by the state are not surprising — allergies are ranked 6th on the list of the leading chronic diseases in the US.
12. Approximately 25 million Americans have asthma.
This accounts for the affected 7.6% of adults and 8.4% of children in the US. Furthermore, the percentage of African-American children affected by asthma is almost two times higher than in white children (13.5% vs. 7.5%).
13. More than 150 million Europeans experience symptoms of chronic allergic diseases.
The World Allergy Organisation presented the allergy statistics on the prevalence of allergies in different countries that ranged between 10–40%. The worrying estimation shows that allergies will affect up to 50% of the whole European by 2025. It’s interesting that the most common allergy in the UK is the nut allergy.
14. Indoor pollutants cause 2–5 times more allergies than outdoor pollutants.
This interesting fact is related to the average amount of time that US citizens spend indoors (almost 90%). Furthermore, indoor pollutants cause a typical allergic clinical picture, and they include dust mites, pets, mold, etc.
Facts About Food Allergies
15. Food allergy is the most common allergy worldwide.
This type of allergy is characterized by an immune reaction to harmless food allergens. Cow’s milk, eggs, and nuts are the top three food allergens. Many experts wonder why food allergies are on the rise, but the reasons are unknown.
16. Allergies to nuts, fish, and shellfish usually continue beyond childhood.
Fortunately, children can outgrow some allergies, such as those to milk, egg, wheat, and soy. However, lifelong allergies remain a therapeutic challenge for adults.
17. Despite the progress in immunotherapy, there is no cure for food allergy.
The food allergy statistics report a steady-state regarding the treatment options for food-associated symptoms. And even though there are some clinical trials and immunotherapy protocols, their outcomes are still controversial.
18. There are more than 170 food allergens described.
Foods can cause mild to severe, even life-threatening allergic reactions. Among the most common food allergens are milk, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, seafood, wheat, and soy. Sesame allergy is also becoming a growing concern.
19. About 32 million Americans have food allergies.
Out of those, 5.6 million are children or every one in 13 school kids. Additionally, almost half of people with food allergies are reactive to more than one type of food.
20. Peanut allergy statistics show that the prevalence of these allergies has tripled over the course of twenty years.
For the same period, between 1997 and 2011, the prevalence of food allergy in children doubled. The prognosis is an increased prevalence of food allergies in the future.
21. Severe reactions to food send someone to the emergency room every three minutes.
The food allergy dataset reveals that more than 40% of children with food allergies had experienced a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis. This led to a 380% increase in the number of emergency room visits and medical procedures between 2007 and 2016, according to the food allergies statistics.
Although allergic reactions with fatal outcomes can happen at any age, younger age is a risk factor for severe reactions. However, in about one-quarter of cases with epinephrine administrations in schools, the allergen is unknown.
23. Most of the fatal food-induced reactions happen outside the home.
Having meals outside the home triggers severe reactions more often than home consumption. Namely, about 15% of fatal allergic reactions to food occur in schools.
Seasonal Allergy Statistics
24. The pollen season has been extended from 1 to 3.5 weeks.
For the twenty years between 1995 and 2015, the number of weeks affected by the ragweed pollen season was enlarged to three and a half weeks in the US and Canada. The possible reason is global warming.
25. 6.1 million children and 20 million adults are affected by hay fever globally.
Hay fever, or medically named allergic rhinitis, is a common seasonal allergic disease that affects the respiratory tracts of millions of people worldwide.
26. White children are more prone to develop hay fever than African-American children.
This is one of the most interesting facts about allergies. However, even though racial differences in the risk of developing hay fever have been observed, there are many other factors, as well as different types of allergy exerting distinct predisposition. For example, sensitization is more typical for African-American children.
Interestingly, location also matters; the worst states for allergies are New York, Tennessee, and Mississippi, whereas the best states for allergies are Texas and Colorado. The best places to live with allergies are Canada, Austria, and Spain.
27. Immunotherapy is effective in up to 85% of patients with hay fever.
Immunotherapy for hay fever is especially effective, reducing 60–70% of the symptoms, as well as decreasing the need for medications. Nevertheless, in 85% of the patients, the improvement of symptoms was persistent after the treatment ceased, leading to long-lasting remission, and the risk reduction for the development of new allergies. A significant improvement in the quality of life shouldn’t be underestimated either.
Other Types of Allergies: Facts and Stats
28. Skin allergies are typical for children between 0 and 4 years of age.
Almost 9 million children reported symptoms of skin allergy in 2015, with a slightly higher prevalence in African-Americans youth, compared to white children.
29. 10% of the world’s population, and 20% of all hospitalized patients have drug allergies.
Generally, allergic reactions to drugs are reported mainly for penicillin and related antibiotics, which are among the most commonly used. In hospitals, 75% of drug allergies are due to antimicrobials and anti-epileptic drugs. More than 95% of the reactions manifest as a skin rash. The systemic manifestations occurred in 30% of the patients, i.e., hepatitis, severe skin lesions, and death, which often occurs, compared to food allergy death, statistics reveal.
30. Up to 6% of Americans suffer from a latex allergy.
The percentage of healthcare workers with latex allergies is 8–12% due to their frequent exposition. The only available treatment option is to avoid latex and use other types of materials such as nitrile, vinyl, etc.
31. Insect allergies affect about 5% of the world population.
Bee and wasp stings are the most common insect allergens. However, cockroaches and dust mites may also contribute to the nasal or skin allergy symptoms. Insect sting allergy-associated anaphylaxis is responsible for about 100 deaths in the US every year.
Allergy Statistics on Fatalities and Emergencies
32. 200,000 people seek emergency medical care due to allergic reactions to food in the US every year.
A patient is admitted to the emergency room after eating specific allergens every three minutes. Approximately 40% of children who have a food allergy had experienced a life-threatening reaction such as anaphylaxis. Furthermore, the medical procedures involved in anaphylaxis management had increased by 380% over ten years (2007–2016).
33. The top three triggers of anaphylaxis are medicines, food, and insect stings.
Drugs are among the deadliest of the allergens, and they are responsible for most cases of allergy-related deaths. The food allergy statistics for 2018 reported that the fatal allergic reactions to medications, food, or unknown types of allergens occur mostly in African-Americans and the elderly.
34. Asthma reactions send 1.8 million people to the emergency room in the US every year.
When it comes to asthma, the statistics reveal that complications cause about 439,000 hospitalizations, and more than 3500 deaths in the US every year.
35. Fatalities due to allergic reactions depend on many factors, including age and the existence of other diseases.
The second and third decades of life are riskier when it comes to death due to anaphylaxis, together with factors such as male gender, white race, cardiovascular diseases, etc. Delayed epinephrine administration is also an unfavorable risk factor.
Allergy Statistics Worldwide: 2020 Predictions Related to the Economy
36. Taking care of children with food allergies costs American families nearly $25 billion annually.
All of the top 20 food allergies can limit life activity, so it’s essential to provide adequate care for both allergic children and adults. The disturbing statistics also show that every third child with a food allergy is being bullied in school.
37. The total annual cost due to allergies is $18 billion in the US.
The yearly cost of allergies affecting the American health care system and businesses not only exceeds $18 billion, but it also is on the increase.
38. The economic expenses of any food allergy in the US are $4184 per child, with direct medical costs amounting to $4.3 billion.
One-third of all allergy patients have a peanut allergy, facts reveal. The expenses of hospitalization were estimated at $1.9 billion, followed by outpatient visits to specialists in allergology ($819 million), visits to emergency departments, and pediatrician visits ($543 million).
39. Out-of-pocket costs due to allergy in children were $5.5 billion in the US alone.
Almost 90% of children with food allergies have health insurance. However, the need for special diets and the cost of childcare lead to an increase in copayments and deductibles.
40. The economic burden on employers who have children with food allergies amounts to $14 billion.
9.1% of caregivers reported lower work productivity, leading to annual opportunity costs of $2399 per child. Additionally, because of their child’s condition, the other 4.9% of caregivers quit a job, 2.5% had to change jobs, and 1.9% lost their jobs.
“Fun” Facts About Allergies
41. Nickel accessories can cause a lifelong metal allergy.
Jewelry and watches containing nickel can lead to allergic reactions to metals and symptoms for the rest of one’s life. Avoiding using such materials is the only way of preventing future relapses of metal allergies.
42. You may become a vegetarian due to cross-allergy.
When certain tick species bite a human, they cause an allergy to a protein called alpha-gal. This protein is also found in red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb. Thus, the antibodies against alpha-gal can turn you into a vegetarian. The allergic symptoms can include hives, breathing difficulties, and anaphylactic shock, according to the recently published food allergy facts.
43. Up to 40,000 women in the USA may be hypersensitized to male semen.
A condition called post-orgasmic illness syndrome can be observed in both women and men. The symptoms include fatigue and weakness that appear seconds or hours after sex.
44. One-fifth of people that thought they had food allergies did not.
(Medical News Today)
As a result of self-diagnosis, when symptoms are associated with particular food consumption, many people believe they have allergies. However, intolerances and other reasons can cause unpleasant symptoms. The actual allergic responses to food have to be confirmed in medical departments to clarify the diagnosis and management of the condition. Only then can these patients be included in the relevant food allergy stats.
45. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat.
Although some breeds of cats and dogs are considered to be hypoallergenic, this is a myth. Interestingly, the fur of the animal is not the problem but its urine, skin, and saliva, which contain specific proteins such as Fel d 1. The good news is that this protein is unique and doesn’t cause severe allergic reactions in other animals.
However, long-haired cats and dogs release more airborne allergens, which contribute to the increased frequency and severity of the allergic symptoms. Therefore, some patients are allergic to dog saliva, while others are allergic to some cats, the dog allergy statistics reveal.
46. Around 2% of the population is allergic to exercise.
The so-called exercise-induced anaphylaxis is an allergy phenomenon, which is a severe form of the condition. Different hypotheses on the development of these symptoms related to the exercise are discussed — gastrointestinal problems, blood flow redistribution, etc. However, the reasons are yet to be elucidated. Interestingly, there is also food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis that occurs after eating a particular snack or food.
47. Some people are allergic to water.
It sounds awful to be allergic to water. Fortunately, this condition is sporadic. The causes of aquagenic urticaria are unknown, and any type of water, including water temperature, can trigger its symptoms. When it comes to allergies, this is one of the most fascinating and “fun” facts.
48. People can acquire allergies through organ donation.
There are cases when the donor acquires a food allergy after transplantation. However, transplant-acquired allergies are extremely rare. It’s assumed that transplantation of lungs, bone marrow, kidney, liver, and heart, can potentially lead to a new food allergy for the recipient.
How many people die from allergies each year?
Between 150–200 deaths per year in the US can be attributed to anaphylaxis due to allergic reactions to food, medications, and insect bites. However, many factors, such as age, race, and comorbidity, can influence the mortality rate. Patients should always keep in mind their potentially fatal allergens and be prepared with epinephrine injections and other urgent medications.
This topic has been extensively discussed ever since the World Allergy Week in 2018.
How do you know what you’re allergic to?
In order to avoid self-diagnosis, wrong interpretations, and the delay of the diagnosis, it is recommended to visit a specialist who can perform laboratory tests. Then, when the diagnosis is established, you will be advised to avoid specific allergens and try some therapeutic options, such as immunotherapy.
What food allergies can children outgrow?
Epidemiological studies found that food allergies are rarely outgrown. However, some children begin to tolerate baked milk and egg-based foods. Peanut and seafood allergies seem to be life-long, unfortunately, with only one-quarter of children outgrowing them. Asthma is a complex condition, and it takes years for children to resolve the allergic symptoms.
People also wonder, “Do dog allergies go away?” However, the answer differs on a case by case basis.
Can you all of a sudden become allergic to peanuts?
Yes, the sudden development of an allergy to a particular food can occur at any age. The reasons are not entirely known, but it is thought that the genetic predisposition, as well as cross-reactivity to other allergens, may be in the foundation of such allergies.
How can I cure my allergies?
Allergies can’t be cured, but they can be outgrown. However, you can prevent the onset of the symptoms by avoiding the allergen in question. In some cases, over-the-counter allergy medications can be administered, as well as immunotherapy (oral, sublingual, etc.).
Do allergies go away with exposure?
Generally, they don’t. Every exposure to an allergen that causes a reaction in the individual leads to reactivation of the immune process and the production of new IgE antibodies. However, the principle of immunotherapy and desensitization is to alleviate allergic reactions by administering tiny amounts of the allergens to teach the immune system not to overreact.
Since allergic diseases are affecting billions of lives worldwide, leading experts gather, review, and report routinely the most recent and essential allergy statistics. Furthermore, when you know all the vital facts, you can lessen the negative impact of the disease on your health, including the suffering and loss of productivity that lead to direct and indirect costs. Unfortunately, most of the disease mechanisms, new ways of prevention, better patient care, and social determinants remain to be resolved.