• More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic diseases.1 A recent nationwide survey found that more than half (54.6 percent) of all U.S citizens test positive to one or more allergens; among specific allergens, dust mite, rye, ragweed, or cockroach caused sensitization in approximately 25 percent of the population.2
  • 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 prevalence of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (hay fever) in the United States are 9 percent 3 and 16 percent.4 The prevalence of allergic rhinitis has increased substantially over the past 15 years.5
  • In 2002, approximately 14 million office visits to health care providers were attributed to allergic rhinitis. 6
  • Estimates of the prevalence of allergy to latex allergens in the general population vary widely, from less than 1 percent to 6 percent. 7,8
  • 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. 7
  • 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 percent. 10,11 The prevalence of atopic dermatitis appears to be increasing. 12,13
  • Health care provider visits for contact dermatitis and other eczemas, which include atopic dermatitis, are 7 million per year. 14
  • Chronic sinusitis is the most commonly reported chronic disease, affecting 16.3 percent of people (nearly 32 million) in the United States in 1997. 3
  • In 1996, estimated U.S. health care expenditures attributable to sinusitis were approximately $5.8 billion. 15
  • Experts estimate food allergy occurs in 6 to 8 percent of children 4 years of age or under, and in 4 percent of adults. 16,21 Approximately 150 Americans, usually adolescents and young adults, die annually from food-induced anaphylaxis. 16
  • Peanut or tree nut allergies affect approximately 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent of Americans, respectively, and cause the most severe food-induced allergic reactions. 18
  • 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. Approximately 7 percent of normal volunteers react to penicillin allergy skin tests (IgE antibodies). 19 While the true number of deaths from drug reactions is unknown, anaphylactic reactions to penicillin occur in 32 of every 100,000 exposed patients. 9
  • 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 3 percent of American and 1 percent of children. 20 Between 40 and 100 Americans have been reported to die annually from anaphylaxis to insects, although this number may be markedly underestimated.


  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. Arbes SJ et al. “Prevalences of positive skin test responses to 10 common allergens in the US population: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 116:377-383. 2005.
  3. CDC. Fast Stats A-Z, Vital and Health Statistics, Series 10, no. 205, May 2002. Web: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_205.pdf
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. CDC. Fast Stats A-Z, Advanced Data from Vital and Health Statistics, no. 346, Table 13. August 26, 2004. Web: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm
  7. Poley GE and Slater JE. “Latex allergy.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 105 (6):1054-62. 2000.
  8. Neugut AL, Ghatak AT and Miller RL. “Anaphylaxis in the United States: An investigation into its epidemiology.” Archives of Internal Medicine 161 (1):15-21. 2001.
  9. The International Collaborative Study of Severe Anaphylaxis. “Risk of anaphylaxis in a hospital population in relation to the use of various drugs: an international study.” Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Safety 12(3):195-202. 2003.
  10. Rudikoff D and Lebwohl M. “Atopic dermatitis.” Lancet 351(9117): 1715-21. 1998.
  11. Larsen F and Hanikin J. “Epidemiology of Atopic Dermatitis.” Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America . 22:1-25. 2002.
  12. Matsumoto I et al. “Change in prevealence of allergic diseases in primary school children in Fukuoka City for the last fifteen years.” Arerugi Apr 48(4):435-42.
  13. Schafer T. et al. “The excess of atopic eczema in East Germany is related to the intrinsic type.” British Journal of Dermatology 143:992-998. 2000.
  14. CDC. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics Series, 1996: Vol. 13, no. 134.
  15. 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):408-414. 1999.
  16. Sampson HA. “Peanut Allergy.” New England Journal of Medicine346:1294-1299. 2002.
  17. Bock SA, Munoz-Furlong A, and Sampson, HA. “Fatalities Due to Anaphylactic Reaction to Foods.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 107: 191-193. 2001.
  18. Sicherer SH, Munoz-Furlong A, and Sampson HA. “Prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in the United States determined by means of a random digit dial telephone survey: A 5-year follow-up study.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 112(6):1203-1207. 2003.
  19. Nugent JS et al. “Determination of the incidence of sensitization after penicillin skin testing.” Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology 90 (4):398-403. 2003.
  20. David BK and Golden MD. “Stinging Insect Allergy.” American Family Physician 67:2541-2546. 2003.
  21. Sicherer SH, Munoz-Furlong A, and Sampson HA. “Prevalence of seafood allergy in the United States determined by a random telephone survey.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 114:159-165. 2004.

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