Allergy Statistics

Over 50 million Americans suffer from some sort of allergy. This and other statistics provide useful information on how common allergies are in the United States, which could help spur additional allergy research aimed at creating better medication and treatments for allergies.

Important Statistics on Allergies

Key allergy statistics for the United States include:
 
  • More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic diseases. A recent nationwide survey found that more than half (54.6%) of all U.S citizens test positive to one or more allergens. Among the specific allergens, dust mite, rye, ragweed, or cockroach caused sensitization in approximately 25% of the population.
 
  • Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic disease in the United States, costing the healthcare system $18 billion annually.
 
  • Two estimates of the overall percentage of people suffering from allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (hay fever) in the United States are 9% and 16%. The prevalence of allergic rhinitis has increased substantially over the past 15 years.
 
  • In 2002, approximately 14 million office visits to healthcare providers were attributed to allergic rhinitis.
 
  • Estimates of the prevalence of allergy to latex allergens in the general population vary widely, from less than 1% to 6%.
 
  • Certain individuals, including healthcare workers who wear latex gloves and children with spina bifida who have had multiple surgical procedures, are at particularly high risk for allergic reactions to latex. Atopic individuals (those with allergies) are at an increased risk of developing latex allergy.
 
  • Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common skin diseases, particularly in infants and children. The estimated prevalence in the United States varies from 9% to 30%. The prevalence of atopic dermatitis appears to be increasing.
 
  • Healthcare provider visits for contact dermatitis and other eczemas, which include atopic dermatitis, are 7 million per year.
 
  • Chronic sinusitis is the most commonly reported chronic disease, affecting 16.3% of people (nearly 32 million) in the United States in 1997.
 
  • In 1996, estimated U.S. healthcare expenditures due to sinusitis were approximately $5.8 billion.
 
  • Experts estimate food allergy occurs in 6% to 8% of children 4 years of age or under, and in 4% of adults. Approximately 150 Americans, usually adolescents and young adults, die annually from food-induced anaphylaxis.
 
  • Peanut or tree nut allergies affect approximately 0.6% and 0.4% of Americans, respectively, and cause the most severe food-induced allergic reactions.
 
  • Allergic drug reactions account for 5% to 10% of all adverse drug reactions, with skin reaction being the most common form.
 
  • Penicillin is a common cause of drug allergy. Approximately 7% of normal volunteers react to penicillin allergy skin tests (IgE antibodies). While the true number of deaths from drug reactions is unknown, anaphylactic reactions to penicillin occur in 32 of every 100,000 exposed patients.
 
  • Acute urticaria (hives) is common, affecting 10% to 20% of the population at some time in their lives. Half of those affected continue to have symptoms for more than six months.
 
  • Allergy to the venom of stinging insects (honeybees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants) is relatively common, with systemic reactions occurring in 3% of adults and 1% of children. Between 40 and 100 Americans have been reported to die annually from anaphylaxis to insects, although this number may be markedly underestimated.
 
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