New data shows allergies are a ‘significant public health problem in the U.S.’

More than a quarter of adults and kids nationwide have at least one allergy, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

This isn’t based on observations of who is sneezing or who has watery eyes during allergy season. For these reports, CDC scientists specifically asked if there is an actual allergy diagnosis from a doctor.

“Allergies drive everything in our family,” Andrea Jensen, who along with her husband and three children, has allergies said. “Most people, if they get a cold, that might last maybe a week. It’s a little annoying. You have pockets filled with tissues that you’re carrying around and you have a snotty nose. You feel like a little 3-year-old sometimes with a lot of mucus coming out. Well, we feel like that year-round. So, with allergies, that never goes away.”

Some of the Jensens also have food allergies

“They’re life-threatening,” Andrea explained.

The Jensens aren’t alone. The CDC said nearly one in three adults and more than one in four children reported having a seasonal allergy, food allergy or eczema.

For children, the report reveals boys are more likely to be diagnosed with a seasonal allergy than girls.

Ben Zablotsky and Amanda Ng worked on the studies.

“The point of this report was to establish the prevalence and to show that this is a significant public health problem in the U.S.,” Ng said.

This data is from 2021. Scientists can’t say how the numbers compare to past years.

“In the current report, we’re talking about doctor diagnosis for various allergies,” Zablotsky explained. “In the past, we were only asking about symptoms. So, we’re no longer comparing apples to apples.”

Jensen also educates families on how they can cope with allergies. Here are some of the things she suggests to help ease the symptoms: Shower at night to wash away any environmental factors like pollen; keep your bedroom windows closed; dust frequently; think about if you need to remove carpets; if pets are the cause of your reactions, try to have one clean room where the animal can’t go.

If this seems overwhelming, Jensen has a message for anyone new to allergies.

“Don’t panic,” she said. “This can be managed. You can live a long and wonderful, healthy life. It can be a little annoying at times with allergies, but it can be well-managed.”