Allergies Facts
Allergies Facts

57 Interesting Allergy Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published September 22, 2020
  • An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system needlessly responds to certain foreign substances, triggering symptoms that can range from irritating to deadly.[11]
  • Repeated exposure to natural rubber latex, widely used in the healthcare and baby product industries, can cause a person to develop new allergies.[7]
  • It is very rare for someone with a food allergy to be allergic to more than one type of food.[11]
  • People sometimes mistake an intolerance to certain types of foods for an allergy. Food intolerance is the result of an unrelated deficiency or disorder and can therefore be cured if the underlying problem is resolved, which is not true of allergies.[11]
  • Although allergic rhinitis is commonly referred to as “hay fever,” most people who have it are allergic to something other than hay and do not experience fevers as one of their symptoms.[1]
  • Allergies Hayfever
    Not everyone loves Spring...
  • Hay fever can occur seasonally or perennially. The seasonal form is usually caused by molds or pollens that are airborne in spring, summer, or fall; perennial allergies can result from exposure to dust, pet hair, or cockroaches.[1]
  • Hay fever is not always a sign of an allergy; some individuals experience hay fever-like symptoms as a natural response to irritants such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, or cleaning products.[1]
  • One test for allergies involves having possible allergens injected into a tiny area directly under the skin so that if a reaction occurs, it will be limited to that area.[1]
  • There are five known insects whose stings or bites can cause allergic reactions in humans: honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants.[10]
  • Around 100 deaths occur each year from an anaphylactic reaction to an insect sting.[10]
  • Currently, more than 260 million acres in the United States are infested with fire ants, which are not native to North America and whose stings can cause severe allergic reactions in people.[10]
  • Someone who has already experienced an allergic reaction to an insect sting has a 60% chance of having either the same or an even worse reaction if they are stung again.[10]
  • Venom immunotherapy is a medical treatment in which increasingly larger injections of insect venom are gradually given to an allergic patient in an attempt to create immunity.[10]
  • In the United States, more than 50 million people have at least one type of allergy.[9]
  • Gluten allergies facts
    There are currently no standard medical tests that can accurately diagnose gluten intolerance
  • Despite a rise in gluten-free eating, there is no such thing as a "gluten allergy." However, wheat allergies, celiac disease, and sensitivity to gluten may preclude wheat for people with those conditions.[9]
  • It is possible for someone to suddenly develop an allergy to a food that they have eaten regularly without any prior problems.[9]
  • Although allergies tend to run in families, there is no way to predict whether a parent will pass their allergy on to their children.[9]
  • Around 90% of all food allergies fall into one of eight types: allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, or soy.[9]
  • The symptoms of most food allergies usually manifest themselves within a few minutes to two hours after the food is ingested.[9]
  • Children who have allergies to milk or eggs may outgrow them by the time they become adults, but this is rarely the case with childhood allergies to legumes or nuts.[9]
  • Children with food allergies are most commonly allergic to milk, eggs, or peanuts; adult food allergies tend to involve fruit and vegetable pollen, fish and shellfish, and nuts.[9]
  • Peanuts are the only food to which both children and adults tend to develop allergic reactions.[9]
  • The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires all manufacturers to include allergy information on their labels if their products contain even trace amounts of milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish, or crustacean shellfish.[9]
  • Even though peanuts are actually legumes, a person with an allergy to peanuts can also be cross-reactive to actual nuts like walnuts and almonds. It is surprisingly rare for someone with a peanut allergy to be allergic to other legumes.[9]
  • Allergies Epipens
    A food allergy sends someone to the ER every 3 minutes in the United States alone; having an EpiPen on hand can be a literal lifesaver
  • Due to an act signed into federal law by President Barack Obama, dozens of states in the US have laws requiring public schools to stock epinephrine auto-injectors.[9]
  • In order to identify a food allergy, doctors sometimes administer an “oral food challenge,” where the patient is fed small amounts of potential food allergens under strict medical supervision.[9]
  • Although some food products may have cautionary statements on their labels indicating the possibility that the food was prepared in proximity to known allergens, these warnings are not actually required by law.[9]
  • Products that are not required by the US government to note the presence of allergens on their labels include meat, poultry, alcoholic beverages, and cosmetics.[9]
  • Some people experience reaction symptoms simply from walking into a restaurant that serves the food to which they are allergic.[9]
  • People with severe food allergies sometimes use a “chef card” when dining out. The card is sent back to the chef to indicate what foods the patron cannot consume.[9]
  • Allergists prefer not to diagnose patients as having “mild” or “severe” food allergies because it is possible to suddenly have an anaphylactic reaction to an allergen even if previous exposures had only ever resulted in mild symptoms.[9]
  • The change in hormones that happens in pregnant women can sometimes cause their immune system to react worse to pre-existing allergies.[13]
  • Nickel and cobalt are the most common metal allergens, while copper, gold, platinum, sterling silver, and stainless steel are the least likely to cause allergic reactions.[2]
  • Some cosmetic products, including eye liner, eye shadow, and even soap, contain chromates, a kind of metal that has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.[2]
  • Skin Allergies
    Bracelets are out
  • When allergic dermatitis caused by reaction to metals is severe enough, handling coins or touching a doorknob can be enough to cause blistering or scaling of the skin.[2]
  • The sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States is allergies.[4]
  • One of the most common health conditions for which children in the United States are treated are those related to allergies.[4]
  • Every year, around 200,000 people visit an emergency room due to an allergic reaction to food.[4]
  • Allergic reactions to medicines are the number one cause of allergy-related deaths.[4]
  • Insect stings, medicine, and food are the three most common causes of allergy-induced anaphylaxis.[4]
  • Around $25 billion is spent in the United States every year on costs related to food allergies.[4]
  • Children between the ages of 0 and 4 are the most likely to experience eczema, skin inflammation, and hives due to allergic reactions.[4]
  • Ten percent of the population reports being allergic to penicillin, the most commonly used antibiotic.[4]
  • Between 8 and 10 percent of all healthcare workers develop an allergy to latex at some point.[4]
  • Although many people will experience an adverse reaction to a certain drug at some point in their lives, true allergies to prescription medicines are actually very rare.[8]
  • An allergy to alcohol is an exceedingly rare condition in which even a tiny amount of alcohol can cause hives, swelling of the face and throat, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and anaphylaxis.[6]
  • Although it is extremely rare, some people are actually allergic to physical exertion. Such people can only engage in very mild forms of exercise under supervision.[15]
  • Dermatographism allergy
    Dermographism affects roughly 2–5% of the population
  • People who suffer from dermographism, a form of the the allergy uticaria (hives), have skin so sensitive they can write letters that raise into welts with the touch of a fingernail.[15]
  • Heat urticaria is a condition in which temperatures over 109.4 degrees F cause an allergic reaction.[15]
  • People who are allergic to the sun don’t usually develop the allergy until they are around the age of 35 years old.[14]
  • One in 23 million people have an allergy to water. Such people have to take extreme measures, such as limiting showers to less than a minute and only drinking carbonated water, in order to avoid extreme reactions to this common element.[14]
  • Although it is mostly seen in women, a sperm allergy is a rare condition that can also affect men.[14]
  • Most experts deny the claim made by some people that there is such a thing as an allergic reaction to electromagnetic fields.[14]
  • People who are allergic to the alpha-gal, a sugar molecule found in most mammals but not in humans, must abstain from eating meat in order to avoid triggering a reaction.[5]
  • Some people are allergic to red meat, an affliction that may be caused by tick bites.[12]
  • Although many people believe that allergic reactions to animals are triggered by exposure to the animal’s fur, animal allergies are actually caused by a certain protein that can be transmitted by fur.[3]
  • The animals that are most likely to cause an allergic reaction in people are dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, and birds.[12]

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