Allergic diseases and its prevalence across 5 major countries

By Chandrika Kapagunta on September 9, 2016

Allergic diseases are a major health problem across the world. The global prevalence of allergic diseases has increased tremendously affecting 10-30% of the global population (Ring 2012). Apart from health problems, allergic diseases are also a major socio-economic burden of a country. The consequences of allergic disorders involve morbidity, employee absenteeism, lack of performance in schools and overall loss in the quality of life. In many countries, the patient care facilities for treatment of allergic reactions are inadequate which makes the condition worse. Allergy is characterised by its interdisciplinary nature and involves the expertise of clinical medicine as well as an experimental science.

Prevalence of allergic diseases on a global platform

The prevalence and the complexity of allergic disease are increasing globally especially among children and young adults. Major allergic disease across the globe include:

  • anaphylaxis
  • allergies from food,
  • asthma,
  • rhinitis,
  • eczema,
  • angioedema,
  • urticaria,
  • conjunctivitis,
  • eosinophilic disorders,
  • allergies from insects and drugs.

According to a recent research, 300 million people suffer from asthma, 200 to 250 million people suffer from food allergies and 400 million people suffer from rhinitis across the globe (Pawankar et al. 2014). Approximately, one-tenth of the population suffer from drug allergies (Pawankar et al. 2014).

World map of prevalence of diagnosed asthma as allergic diseases (2010)
World map of the prevalence of diagnosed asthma (2010)

Rhinitis affects 10-30% of the world adult population and as much as 40% of children. According to the World Health Organisation, 400 million people globally suffer from allergic rhinitis. In terms of country distribution, USA has reported rhinitis in 3-19% of its population (30-60 million per year). Similarly, in Europe approximately 4-32% of the population suffer from rhinitis and in Latin America, 20-28% of children suffer from Rhinitis (Pawankar et al. 2013).

Presence of Food Induced Allergy in some countries
Presence of Food Induced Allergy in some countries

10% of the world population is affected by drug allergy, while 20% of hospitalised patients suffer from this form of allergy. Among them penicillin being the most common drug leading to a hypersensitivity reaction (Pawankar et al. 2013). Today people in the least developed countries are experiencing allergic symptoms similar to developed counties. However, the disease management and therapeutic modalities differ significantly. Since the disease is increasing on a global platform, an action plan with a multi-country partnership is the need of the hour.

Key allergic reactions across 5 major countries

For the purpose of understanding the significance of the increasing presence of allergy, five countries are selected. These countries have one of the highest rates of allergy incidences among adults and children.

Key Allergies Prevalent
1 USA Asthma, Rhinitis, Food Allergy
2 UK Asthma, Rhinitis and Eczema
3 Australia Allergic Rhinitis, Asthma, eczema
4 Africa Asthma, Allergic Rhinitis, eczema
5 Japan Asthma, Rhinitis and Eczema

The major cause of chronic illness in the United States

In the United States, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness with more than 50 million people suffering each year with an annual cost of $18 billion (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011). The major allergic diseases prevalent in US across all the age groups include asthma, rhinitis (hay fever), food allergy, and atopic dermatitis (eczema). The prevalence of allergic diseases is particularly high among children under 18 years of age with 41% suffering from asthma, 11.6% from skin allergies, 10% from respiratory allergies, 8.4% from hay fever and 5.4% from food allergies (Center for Health Statistics 2014).

High food allergic reactions in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, allergic reactions are the most common chronic disease with 21 million adults suffering from at least one allergy with the number increasing by 5% every year (EAACI 2014a). Since 1990 hospital admissions for food allergies have increased by 500% (Gupta et al. 2007). And for anaphylaxis increased by 615% in 20 years (Turner et al. 2015). Furthermore, 20% of the population is affected by allergic rhinitis (Royal College of Physicians 2003). By 2025, asthma will represent the most prevalent chronic childhood disease and will result in one of the highest causes of health care costs (EAACI 2014b).

Increasing allergic diseases in Australia, Africa and Japan

Australia is among the highest prevalence of allergic disorders in the developed world. 19.6% of the total population suffers from at least one allergic diseases. The highest prevalence of these allergic diseases is among the working age group (15-64 years). This led to a loss of $7.8 billion and is estimated that the number of allergy sufferers will increase by 70%  by 2050 (Access Economics Pty Limited 2007). The common allergic reactions in Australia include:

  • hay fever,
  • asthma,
  • eczema,
  • stinging insect allergy,
  • food allergy (peanuts, followed by shrimp, cow’s milk, egg),
  • anaphylaxis majorly caused by food (most commonly through dairy products, hens’ egg, peanuts and seafood),
  • insect stings and
  • drug allergy.

The prevalence of allergic diseases has increased in Africa especially among adolescents. The common symptoms include that for asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic eczema. Severe allergic reactions causing anaphylaxis may also occur in cases of food allergies.

The most common type of allergic reaction in Japan is pollen allergy with 12-13% of the population suffering from the symptoms. The pollen entering through eyes or nose initiates allergic reaction leading to itching, watery eyes or running or clogged nose.

Treatment cost and market value of an allergic drug

The global allergy diagnostics market is valued at US$ 12.2 billion. This is expected to reach US$ 40.8 Billion by 2022. Globally, the diagnostics and treatment market for Asthma treatment in developed countries is more expensive than in developing countries. The costs range from USD 300-1300 per patient per year in developed countries. While, in developing countries like Vietnam, costs USD 184 per patient per year (Pawankar et al. 2014). For treatment of rhinitis, the costs in the USA has doubled in the last 5 years, to a total of USD 11 billion (Pawankar et al. 2014). The global market value for allergic rhinitis drugs is predicted to reach above $12 billion by 2020 (Technaivo Report 2016). Similarly market for preventive asthma drugs would grow at 5.20% over the period 2014-2019 (Technaivo Report 2015).


  • Access Economics Pty Limited, 2007. The economic impact of allergic disease in Australia: not to be sneezed at,
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory diseases in Australia, Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
  • Center for Health Statistics, 2014. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey, United States.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011. Allergies.
  • EAACI, 2014a. 150 million Europeans are “trapped” by allergy. In Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Congress.
  • EAACI, 2014b. Allergy and Asthma – double trouble.
  • Gupta, R. et al., 2007. Time trends in allergic disorders in the UK. Thorax, 62(1), pp.91–6.
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  • Pawankar, R. et al., 2013. WAO White Book on Allergy, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: World Allergy Organization. Available at:
  • Ring, J., 2012. Davos Declaration: Allergy as a global problem. European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 67(2), pp.141–143.
  • Technaivo Report, 2016. Global Allergic Rhinitis Drugs Market 2016-2020, United States.
  • Technaivo Report, 2015. Global Preventive Asthma Drugs Market 2015-2019, United States.
  • Turner, P.J. et al., 2015. Increase in anaphylaxis-related hospitalizations but no increase in fatalities: an analysis of United Kingdom national anaphylaxis data, 1992-2012. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 135(4), pp.956–63.e1.


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