In 1994, the estimated number of people with self-reported asthma in the United States was 14.6 million. The estimate for 1998 has risen to 17 million [1,2,3].

  • Asthma was diagnosed more often than any other illness of 468,000 U.S. hospital admissions in 1993 [1,3].
  • In the United States in 1994 , asthma affected an estimated 4.8 million children (under age 18) out of an estimated 18 million children. Asthmatic youngsters under age 15 were hospitalized 159,000 times in 1993, and stayed 3.4 days on average[1,3].
  • Asthma is only slightly more prevalent in African-American children than in white children [1]. African-American children with asthma, however, experience more severe disability and have more frequent hospitalizations than do white children [4,5].
  • Among 5-24 year olds, the asthma death rate nearly doubled from 1980 to 1993. In 1993, African Americans in this age group were 4 to 6 times more likely to die from asthma than whites; and males were 1.5 times at greater risk than females [1,7].
  • Overall, asthma treatment cost an estimated $6.2 billion in 1990; 43% of that total cost was associated with emergency room use, hospitalization, and death. Loss of school days, alone, caused decreased productivity that cost an estimated $1 billion [8].
  • Estimates from a skin test survey suggest that allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States [9].
  • Allergy testing accounted for 1.4 million office visits to physicians in 1991 [10].
  • Pollen allergy (hay fever or allergic rhinitis) affects an estimated 10% or 26 million Americans, not including those with asthma [11]. Allergic rhinitis is the reason for 9.2 million office visits to physicians yearly [12].
  • The estimated overall costs of hay fever in the United States in 1990 totalled $1.8 billion [13].
  • Allergic dermatitis (itchy rash) is the most common skin condition in children younger than 11 years of age [14]. The percentage of American children diagnosed with it has increased from 3% in the 1960s to 10% in the 1990s [15].
  • Urticaria (hives; raised areas of reddened skin that become itchy) and angioedema (swelling of throat tissues) together affect approximately 15% of the U.S. population every year [15].
  • More than 1,000 systemic allergic reactions to natural rubber latex, including 15 deaths, were reported to the FDA between 1988 and 1992. Followups showed the reactions were caused by residual rubber tree proteins in medical devices such as rubber gloves and catheters. Most (82%) allergic reactions to latex are caused by rubber additives [16].
  • Chronic sinusitis affects nearly 35 million people in the United States [3].
  • Allergic drug reactions, commonly caused by antibiotics such as penicillin and cephalosporins, occur in 2 to 3% of hospitalized patients [17].
  • Eight percent of children younger than 6 years old experience food intolerance(s). researchers estimate that up to 2 to 4 percent of all children under 6 have food allergy.
  • A severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis occurs in 3.3% of the U.S. population as a result of insect stings. At least 40 deaths per year result from insect sting anaphylaxis [18].

References :

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Surveillance Summaries, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ; 47(SS-1), April 24, 1998.
  2. CDC, Forcasted State-Specific Estimates of Self-Reported Asthma Prevalence—United States, 1998; MMWR ; 47(47):1022-1025, December 4, 1998.
  3. CDC, Vital and Health Statistics, Current Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, 1994 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Center for Health Statistics): DHHS Pub. No. PHS 96-1521 , December 1995.
  4. CDC; Vital and Health Statistics, National Hospital Discharge Survey: Annual Summary, 1995 (US DHHS, CDC); DHHS Publication No. PHS 98-1794 (Series 13, no. 133) , 1998.
  5. Taylor, W.R., Newacheck, P.W.: Impact of Childhood Asthma on Health; Pediatrics ; 90(5):657-662, 1992.
  6. Evans, R.: Asthma Among Minority children: A Growing Problem; Chest ; 101(6):368S-371S, 1992.
  7. CDC, Asthma Mortality and Hospitalization Among children and Young Adults, 1980-1993; MMWR , 45(17):350-353, May 3, 1996.
  8. Weiss, K.B., Gergen, P.J., Hodgson, T.A.: An Economic Evaluation of Asthma in the U.S. New England Journal of Medicine ; 326:862-6, 1992.
  9. Gergen, P.J., Turkeltaub, P.C., Kaovar, M.G.: The Prevalence of Allergic Skin Reactivity to Eight Common Allergens in the US Population: Results from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; J. Allergy Clinical Immunol.: 800:669-79, 1987.
  10. CDC, Vital and Health Statistics, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1991 Summary (US DHHS, PHS, NCHS); DHHS Publication No. PHS 94-1777 ; May 1994.
  11. CDC, National Health Survey, Series 10, Prevalence of Selected Chronic Conditions: United States, 1990-92 , DHHS Pub. No. 97-1522, January 1997.
  12. CDC/NCHS Vital Health Statistics, Advanced Data: National Ambulatory Medical Care Summary, 1994, April 1996.
  13. McMenamin, P.: Costs of Hay Fever in the U.S. in 1990. Annals of Allergy ; 73:35-39, 1994.
  14. Lapidus, C.S., Schwarz, D.F., Honig, P.J.: Atopic dermatitis in children: Who cares? Who pays? J. American Academy of Dermatology , 28(5):699-703, 1993.
  15. Leung, D.Y.M., Diaz, L. A., DeLeo, V., Soter, N. A.: Allergic skin disorders and mastocytosis. J. American Medical Association , 278(22):1914-1923, 1997.
  16. Sussman, G.L, Beezhold, D.H.: Allergy to Latex Rubber. Annals Internal Medicine, 122:43-46, 1995.
  17. Adkinson, N. F., Jr.., Drug Allergy, in Allergy, Principles and Practice , 5th edition; E. Middleton et al., Mosby, St. Louis, p.1212, 1998.
  18. Valentine, M.D., Anaphylaxis and Stinging Insect Hypersensitivity. JAMA ; 268:2830-2833, 1992.