In more severe cases, patients may also experience asthma attacks or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction rapid in onset. It causes itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure. This article presents the most important allergy facts and figures for the United States.
Allergy facts and figures
The prevalence of allergies in the US make them the 6th highest leading cause for the development of chronic illness among US citizens.
Allergens are usually divided into indoor and outdoor allergens, the most common triggers being tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; dust mites; cockroaches as well as cat, dog, and rodent dander.
We have compiled an overview of the most common types of allergies and their frequency of occurrence:
Allergic rhinitis is more commonly known as hay fever and affects 5.2 million children as well as 19.2 million adults in the United States. Ethnicity wise, a 2010 study has shown that white children were more likely to experience symptoms of hay fever (10%) as opposed to black children (7%).
A skin allergy manifests through skin inflammation, eczema as well as (chronic) hives and can also be caused through contact allergies. Certain plants such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac containing an oily sap called urushiol are very common triggers for skin allergies. Other causes for skin allergy symptoms are direct skin contact with dust mites, cockroaches, certain types of foods or latex for example. Skin allergies occur predominantly in children four years and younger – in 2018, 9.2 million children suffered from skin allergy symptoms.
Among food allergens, eight foods are the most frequent triggers for food allergy symptoms: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
It is estimated that about 32 million US Americans have food allergies: 26 million (10% of population) adults, as well as 5.6 (7.6% of population) children.
For children, the most common trigger is milk, followed by eggs and peanuts. Adults experience food allergy symptoms the most when consuming shellfish, followed by peanuts and tree nuts.
Adverse drug reactions are one of the top three causes of anaphylaxis, affecting up to 10% of the global population. Drug allergy symptoms are mostly by so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as antibiotics and aspirin.
An insect allergy is the allergic reaction to a sting from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants. Globally, the prevalence of insect allergies is between 5 and 7%. In the US, severe life-threatening allergic reactions from insect stings occur in 0.4-0.8% of children and 3% of adults.
Food allergies, drug allergies and insect allergies are the most common causes of anaphylaxis worldwide.