In the 12 months preceding the 2010 U.S. National Health Interview, there were 17.9 million adults diagnosed with hay fever (allergic rhinitis), which is equal to approximately 7.8 percent of the population of the country.
Children are diagnosed almost as frequently in a one-year period as adults, with approximately 7.1 million diagnosed, or 9.5 percent of the children in the population.
There were 8.6 million children, or 11.5 percent of the children in the population, reported to have had respiratory allergies in a 12-month period in 2010.
Children also experience a rate of reported food allergies of approximately 3.4 million, or 4.6 percent of the children in the population, in a 12-month period in 2010.
Skin allergies in children were reported in 9.4 million cases, or a total of 12.6 percent of the children in the population, in 2010.
More than half (54.6 percent) of the people reporting a survey completed in the U.S. indicated that they had positive reactions to one or more allergens. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) affects between 10 and 30 percent of all adults in the U.S. and as many as 40 percent of children.
There are estimates that over 60 million people in the U.S. that have symptoms of allergic rhinitis and this number is increasing.
Approximately 40 people per year die in the U.S. because of allergic reactions to bee stings.
Age, Gender and Other Factors
Eight specific types of foods are responsible for over 90 percent of all reported food allergies. These include eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy, wheat, and fish.
Food allergies are more prominent in children than adults with a total of 4.7 percent of children under the age of 5 having a reported food allergies, and 3.7 percent of children between the ages of 5 to 17 reporting allergies. Often food allergies can decrease as the child ages.
Females are slightly more likely to have food allergies than males with percentages of reported reactions at 4.1 and 3.8 respectively.
Non-Hispanic white children have the highest percentage of reported food allergies at 4.1, non-Hispanic blacks at 4.0, and Hispanic children at 3.1.
In about 50 percent of all homes in the U.S., there are at least 6 detectable allergens present in the environment.
Adults are more likely to have life-threatening reactions to insect stings than children with 3 percent of adults and only 0.4 to 0.8 percent of children. Healthcare workers are at higher risk for developing a latex allergy than the general population. In the general population, there is less than a 1 percent incidence, while in the healthcare industry, the rate is 5 to 15 percent.
Milk allergies are most common in children with 2.5 percent of children under the age of 3 having an allergic reaction to milk.
Peanut allergies doubled in numbers diagnosed between the years 1997 to 2003.
Medical Issues and Care Costs
In 2007, there were 13.4 million visits to doctor offices, hospital outpatient departments, clinics, and emergency departments that had a primary diagnosis of allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
Children under the age of 18 accounted for approximately 9,500 hospital discharges during the years 2004 to 2006 in the U.S.
The rate of reported food allergies in children rose 18 percent between the years 1997 and 2007.
In 2007, children with reported food allergies had a higher rate of other allergies and respiratory conditions than children without food allergies. Children with food allergies had higher rates of asthma 29.4 compared to 12.4, higher rates of eczema 27.2 compared to 8.1, and respiratory allergies of 31.5 compared to 8.7 percent for children with no reported food allergies.
Between the years of 2000 and 2005, the cost for treatments for allergic rhinitis increased from $6.1 billion to $11.2 billion with more than half of the total amount spent on prescription medications.
Anaphylactic reactions to penicillin cause about 400 deaths per year. Also, between six to 10 percent of all adverse drug reactions are caused by allergies or immunological factors.
Patients with HIV/AIDS are more likely to be allergic to drugs, specifically sulfonamide drugs, at a rate of 29 to 65 percent of the HIV/AIDS population compared to two to four percent of other individuals.
There are approximately 5.7 million doctor visits each year due to contact dermatitis.
The number of visits to medical care facilities for food allergies, including emergency rooms and doctors’ offices, was 317,000 for the years 2003 to 2006 in the U.S. alone.
Allergic rhinitis is more common in Europe and Australasia. In a recent European Community Respiratory Health Survey, 35 percent of participants reported having the health condition or symptoms.
According to the World Health Organization, the estimated number of people worldwide with asthma, which is linked to allergies, is approximately 235 million.
The World Health Organization lists allergic rhinitis and sinusitis as one of the major chronic respiratory diseases worldwide.