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Article: Allergy Statistics

  • Each year more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic diseases[1].

  • Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic disease in the United States, costing the health care system $18 billion annually.[1]

  • Two estimates of allergy prevalence in the United States are 9 percent[2] and 16 percent.[3] The prevalence of allergic rhinitis has increased substantially over the past 15 years.[4]

  • Approximately 16.7 million office visits to health care providers each year are attributed to allergic rhinitis.[5]

  • Estimates of the prevalence of allergy to latex allergens in the general population vary widely, from less than 1 percent to 6 percent.[6,7]

  • Certain individuals, including health care 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.[6]

  • Based on 1988 to 1993 data, 220 cases of anaphylaxis and 3 deaths per year are due to latex allergy.[7,8]

  • Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common skin diseases, particularly in infants and children. The estimated prevalence in the United States is 9 percent.[9] The prevalence of atopic dermatitis appears to be increasing.[10]

  • Health care provider visits for contact dermatitis and other eczemas, which include atopic dermatitis, are 7 million per year.[11]

  • Chronic sinusitis is the most commonly reported chronic disease, affecting 12.6 percent of people (approximately 38 million) in the United States in 1996.[2]

  • In 1996, estimated U.S. health care expenditures attributable to sinusitis were more than $5.8 billion.[12]

  • Experts estimate that food allergy occurs in 8 percent of children 6 years of age or under, and in 1 to 2 percent of adults.[13] Approximately 100 Americans, usually children, die annually from food-induced anaphylaxis.[14]

  • Peanut or tree nut allergies affect approximately 3 million Americans and cause the most severe food-induced allergic reactions. [15]

  • Allergic drug reactions account for 5 to 10 percent of all adverse drug reactions, with skin reaction being the most common form.[1]

  • Penicillin is a common cause of drug allergy. One clinic found 2.5 percent of their study group reacted to penicillin allergy skin tests (IgE antibodies).[16] Anaphylactic reactions to penicillin cause 400 deaths annually among Americans, making penicillin allergy a more common cause of death than food allergy.[7]

  • Acute urticaria (hives) is common, affecting 10 to 20 percent of the population at some time in their lives. Half of those affected continue to have symptoms for more than 6 months.[1]

  • Allergy to venom of stinging insects (honeybees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants) is relatively common, with prevalence of systemic reactions in American adults of 3.3 percent.[16] Between 40 and 100 Americans have been reported to die annually from anaphylaxis to insects, although this number may be markedly underestimated.[7]


  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). The Allergy Report: Science Based Findings on the Diagnosis & Treatment of Allergic Disorders, 1996-2001.

  2. CDC. Fast Stats A-Z, Vital and Health Statistics, Series 10, no. 200, Table 57. 1996. Web:

  3. The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Steering Committee. "Worldwide variation in prevalence of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and atopic eczema: ISAAC." Lancet 351: 1225-32. 1998.

  4. Linneberg A et al. "The prevalence of skin-test-positive allergic rhinitis in Danish adults: two cross-sectional surveys 8 years apart. The Copenhagen Allergy Study." Allergy 55: 767-772. 2000.

  5. CDC. Fast Stats A-Z, Vital and Health Statistics, Series 10, no. 13. 1999. Web:

  6. Poley GE and Slater JE. "Latex allergy." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 105 (6): 1054-62. 2000.

  7. Neugut AL, Ghatak AT and Miller RL. "Anaphylaxis in the United States: An investigation into its epidemiology." Archives of Internal Medicine 61 (1): 15-21. 2001.

  8. Sussman GL and Beezhold DH. "Allergy to latex rubber." Annals of Internal Medicine 122 (1): 43-6. 1995.

  9. Rudikoff D and Lebwohl M. "Atopic dermatitis." Lancet 351(9117): 1715-21. 1998.

  10. Boguniewicz M and Leung D. In Allergy, Principles and Practice, 5th Ed., E. Middleton et al, ed. Mosby, St. Louis, p. 1123. 1998.

  11. CDC. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics Series, 1996: Vol. 13, No. 134.

  12. Ray NF et al. "Healthcare expenditures for sinusitis in 1996: contributions of asthma, rhinitis, and other airway disorders." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 103 (3 pt. 1): 408. 1999.

  13. Sampson HA. In Allergy, Principles and Practice, 5th Ed., E. Middleton et al, ed. Mosby, St. Louis, p. 1162. 1998.

  14. AAAAI Board of Directors. "Anaphylaxis in schools and other childcare settings." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 102 (2):173-6. 1998.

  15. Sicherer SH, Munoz-Furlong A, Burks AW et al.: Prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in the US determined by a random digit dial telephone survey. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 103:559-62, 1999.

  16. Gadde J et al. "Clinical experience with penicillin skin testing in a large inner-city STD clinic." Journal of the American Medical Association 270:2456-63. 1993.

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Cache Date: December 10, 2004