Food Allergies Are Costing Us Millions Each Year
Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 13-19) is the perfect time to take a look at just how serious food allergies and their implications are. A great example of this, not to mention a big eye-opener, is a report that shows us just how much food allergies are costing us each year.
Food Allergy’s $500 Million Price Tag
A report published last year in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that $500 million dollars were spent in the United States because of food allergies and the related complications, such as hospital visits, time taken off work, treatments, etc.
Even more startling than the economic burden of food allergies is the alarming rate at which food allergies are rising, with food allergies in children having jumped a whopping 10 percent between 1997 and 2007. It is estimated that approximately four in every 100 Americans suffer from a severe food allergy to nuts, milk, and other food products.
To give you an idea of the money that’s being spent, this is a breakdown of some of the costs associated with food allergies. According to this study and based on the information from several databases, it was found that:
- Visits to a doctor’s office total approximately $118 million.
- Visits to the emergency room amounted to approximately $45 million.
- Time missed at work because of a person’s food allergies or that of a child or loved one ranged from $115 million to $203 million.
Probabilistic sensitivity analysis indicates the direct medical costs to be around $307 million and indirect costs around $203 million. And, it’s worth mentioning that the cost of special diets used to control allergies were not included, making the price tag on food allergies even greater.
What Can We Do?
While it may seem there’s little you can to do significantly impact the overall price tag, you can do your part when it comes to awareness and prevention.
Food allergies can trigger mild to severe reactions in people of all ages. For some, triggers can cause hives, rash, or a mild fever; while those with a more serious sensitivity can experience anaphylaxis - a medical emergency that causes breathing difficulties, heart problems, and death if not treated right away.
So . . . doing your part begins with proper diagnosis and treatment. The sooner you see an allergist and identify your triggers, the sooner you can start taking the necessary precautions such as avoiding those triggers whenever possible. You can also make necessary lifestyle adjustments, and know exactly what to do should you suffer an extreme or severe reaction, such as using adrenalin (epinephrine) in an emergency. Every little bit helps!
Grens, Kerry. "Food Allergies Cost $500 Million a Year: Study." Reuters.com. Reuters, 5 May 2011. Web. 11 May 2012.
Konrad, Walecia. "Food Allergies Take a Toll on Families and Finances." NYTimes.com. The New York Times, 14 May 2010. Web. 11 May 2012.