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.

  • 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.

(Video) Food Allergies: Top 5 Facts You Should Know

  • 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

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

(Video) Food Allergy Facts Part 1

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

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

(Video) Food Allergy Facts Part 2

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

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

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

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

FAQs

What are 3 facts about allergies? ›

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 do you get rid of allergies permanently? ›

There is currently no cure for allergies. However, there are OTC and prescription medications that may relieve symptoms. Avoiding allergy triggers or reducing contact with them can help prevent allergic reactions. Over time, immunotherapy may reduce the severity of allergic reactions.

What are the 7 allergy symptoms? ›

Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
  • Itchy, watery eyes.
  • Itchy nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Runny nose.
  • Rashes.
  • Hives (a rash with raised red patches)
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Vomiting.

Can people with allergies live longer? ›

People with allergies live longer and have fewer cancers than those without allergies. In modern society without exposure to parasites, this antibody system may attack innocent airborne proteins which may have some of the genetic codes of parasites – an accident of nature.

What is the root cause of allergies? ›

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.

Do allergies get worse with age? ›

Allergies may simply worsen with age because you've been exposed to the triggers longer, Parikh says. "It takes repeated exposure to develop allergies. It can take a while for the immune system to decide it doesn't like that allergen."

What can I drink for allergies? ›

If you feel stuffy or have postnasal drip from your allergies, sip more water, juice, or other nonalcoholic drinks. The extra liquid can thin the mucus in your nasal passages and give you some relief. Warm fluids like teas, broth, or soup have an added benefit: steam.

What are the worst symptoms of an allergy? ›

Severe Allergy Symptoms (Anaphylaxis)
  • Itching of eyes or face.
  • Varying degrees of swelling of the mouth, throat, and tongue that can make breathing and swallowing difficult.
  • Hives.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Cramps.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Mental confusion or dizziness.
7 Aug 2022

How can I lower my allergy levels naturally? ›

Home remedies for allergies
  1. Saline nasal irrigation.
  2. Air filters. Consider using an air filter in your indoor environments. ...
  3. Butterbur.
  4. Bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme found in papaya and pineapple. ...
  5. Acupuncture.
  6. Probiotics.
  7. Honey. ...
  8. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
12 Jul 2018

Does having allergies mean your immune system is weak? ›

By contrast, allergies are caused by – if anything – the very opposite of a weak immune system. In effect, the cause of allergic disease is an active immune system that reacts to things that are usually harmless, such as pet dander, certain foods or – as in the case of hay fever – pollen.

What should I avoid if I have allergies? ›

Foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are:
  • milk.
  • eggs.
  • peanuts.
  • tree nuts.
  • fish.
  • shellfish.
  • some fruit and vegetables.

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 could I be allergic to in my house? ›

If you're stuffed up, sneeze, or get itchy eyes all from the comfort of your home, you may have an indoor allergy. It's triggered by things like pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, and cockroaches. Some telltale signs: Year-round symptoms.

Do allergies age you? ›

Allergies. As if your dog fur allergy isn't pesky enough (“Sorry kids, no puppies!”), pet and some other allergies like hay fever can make you look older, says Jessica Krant​, a dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York.

How do you build immunity to allergies? ›

Fight Allergies With Immunotherapy

People who are treated with immunotherapy receive injections containing the substances they are allergic to, in increasing amounts once or twice a week. This desensitizes the immune system over time.

Do antihistamines weaken immune system? ›

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that sedating first-generation H1R antihistamines and H2R blockers might impair innate immune responses to bacteria and that these drugs should be used with caution in patients with severe bacterial infections.

What is the rarest thing to be allergic to? ›

The Rarest (And Strangest) Allergies

Water: Medically known as aquagenic urticaria, patients with a water allergy develop painful hives and rashes when their skin is exposed to water. An allergic reaction will develop regardless of the water temperature, and even when the water is purified.

What allergies can be detected from the blood test? ›

An allergy blood test checks your blood for increased levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. The test can help detect allergies to foods, pets, pollen or other irritating substances.
...
Overview
  • Certain foods or ingredients.
  • Dust.
  • Latex.
  • Insect bites and stings.
  • Mold.
  • Pet dander.
  • Pollen.
  • Some medications.
7 Feb 2022

What is the biggest allergy in the world? ›

Pollen. Pollen allergies are one of the most common allergies in the world. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from Pollen allergies.

Does having allergies mean your immune system is strong? ›

While allergies indicate that the immune system is not functioning correctly, a group of researchers' suggests otherwise. They argue that these allergies could be the body's mechanism of getting rid of toxic substances and that allergies are indicators of strong immune systems.

Why do I have allergies all of a sudden? ›

It's not always clear why some people develop sudden allergies later in life. Genetics may play a role, as might changes in adult immune systems. Adult-onset allergies occur most often for people in their 20s and 30s, though it's possible to develop allergies at any age.

Why do I always have allergies? ›

Chronic allergies are most commonly caused by indoor allergens. Indoor allergens include dust mites, cockroaches, pet hair or dander and mold.

Why are allergies worse this year 2022? ›

Whether it is because of warmer temperatures or more carbon dioxide being emitted, the general tendency with climate change has been longer pollen seasons and greater quantities of pollen which are genuinely the contributors in seasonal allergies for getting worse this year.

Why do allergies get worse at night? ›

Warm temperatures push pollen into the air, but cooler evening air means that pollen falls back down to cover outdoor surfaces at night. If you collect pollen (or other allergens) in your hair or clothes over the course of the day, it can cause bedtime allergy symptoms once you're in for the night.

Can you reverse allergies? ›

You can't cure allergies, but you can treat and control the symptoms. It may take a little work. You'll need to make a few changes to your surroundings or figure out how to stay away from things that trigger allergy attacks.

What foods make allergies worse? ›

It's true— certain foods can in fact make your seasonal allergies worse. Alcohol, peanuts, sugar, processed foods, wheat, chocolate, and even your morning cup of coffee are known culprits that act as hay fever catalysts.

Is honey good for allergies? ›

Honey has been anecdotally reported to lessen symptoms in people with seasonal allergies. But these results haven't been consistently duplicated in clinical studies. The idea isn't so far-fetched, though. Honey has been studied as a cough suppressant and may have anti-inflammatory effects.

Which tea is good for allergies? ›

Benifuuki tea, or Camellia sinensis, is a cultivated variety of Japanese green tea. It contains a high amount of methylated catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which are both recognized for their anti-allergic protective effects.

What's the most common allergy? ›

Pollen allergies are one of the most common allergies in the world. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from Pollen allergies. Pollen is a fine yellow powder that is transported from plant to plant by the wind, birds, insects, and other animals to help fertilize plants.

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.

How many people have an allergy? ›

Allergies Overall

It is estimated that 50+ million people in the United States have allergies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How many kids have food allergies? ›

Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 8% of children in the United States. That's 1 in 13 children, or about 2 students per classroom. A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific and reproducible immune response to certain foods.

What is the rarest thing to be allergic to? ›

The Rarest (And Strangest) Allergies

Water: Medically known as aquagenic urticaria, patients with a water allergy develop painful hives and rashes when their skin is exposed to water. An allergic reaction will develop regardless of the water temperature, and even when the water is purified.

Do allergies get worse with age? ›

Allergies may simply worsen with age because you've been exposed to the triggers longer, Parikh says. "It takes repeated exposure to develop allergies. It can take a while for the immune system to decide it doesn't like that allergen."

Why do I suddenly have so many allergies? ›

Adult-onset allergies can occur seemingly out of nowhere due to exposure to new allergens in the environment, family history and changes in the immune system. The most common food allergies in adults are peanuts, fish, shellfish such as shrimp, lobster and tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews).

What climate is best for allergies? ›

The top 10 least challenging places to live with seasonal allergies are:
  • Provo, Utah.
  • Denver, Colorado.
  • Sacramento, California.
  • Portland, Oregon.
  • San Jose, California.
  • San Francisco, California.
  • Durham, North Carolina.
  • Seattle, Washington.

Does rain help with allergies? ›

For the most part, rainy days are actually great for people who suffer from allergies. The humidity that occurs when it rains helps to weigh pollen down and prevent it from spreading through the air. When this happens, you may find that your allergy symptoms lessen and you feel better than usual.

How do I calm my immune system from allergies? ›

  1. Wash your hair more often.
  2. Clean & dust often.
  3. Wear a mask when you are out and about.
  4. Stay hydrated! Water, water, water!
  5. Avoid things that deplete the immune system such as refined sugar and processed foods.
  6. Limit or avoid dairy.
  7. Get enough sleep.
  8. Reduce stress.
11 Aug 2021

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.

Are allergies genetic? ›

Why Do Kids Get Allergies? The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary, which means it can be passed down through genes from parents to their kids. But just because a parent has allergies doesn't mean that their kids definitely will get them.

Are allergies considered a chronic illness? ›

Allergies are one of the most common chronic diseases. A chronic disease lasts a long time or occurs often. An allergy occurs when the body's immune system sees a substance as harmful and overreacts to it. The substances that cause allergic reactions are allergens.

What are the 3 most common food intolerances? ›

Some of the most common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, FODMAPs and histamine. There is also a wide range of less common food intolerances [1].

Why do kids have so many allergies? ›

When a baby is born, its immune system is a work in progress. “You're born with a naive, allergic-skewed immune system,” explains Dr. Michael Cyr, an allergist and immunologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. This is what scientists call the Th2 mode.

What is the most common food allergy in children? ›

Eggs, milk, and peanuts are the most common causes of food allergies in children, with wheat, soy, and tree nuts also included. Peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish commonly cause the most severe reactions.

Videos

1. Food Allergy Facts Part 2
(NationwideChildrens)
2. Food Allergy Myths and Facts
(Kids With Food Allergies, a division of AAFA)
3. All About Allergies
(SciShow)
4. Vaccines Just the Facts: Food Allergy
(American Nurses Association)
5. Food Facts: What is a food allergy?
(Institute of Food Technologists - IFT)
6. Food Allergy Facts
(HometownHealth)
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