Who is an Allergist?
An allergist/immunologist is a physician specially trained to manage and treat asthma and allergies. Becoming an allergist/immunologist requires completion of at least nine years of training. After completing medical school, a physician will then undergo three years of training in internal medicine (to become an internist) or pediatrics (to become a pediatrician).
Once physicians have finished training in one of these specialties, they must pass the exam of either the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) or the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Internists or pediatricians who wish to focus on the subspecialty of allergy/immunology then complete at least an additional two years of study, called a fellowship, in an allergy/immunology training program.
Allergist/immunologists who are listed as ABAI-certified have successfully passed the certifying examination of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI), following their fellowship.
As a result of this extensive study and training, an allergist/immunologist is the best-qualified medical professional to effectively manage the comprehensive needs of patients with allergic disease. Allergist/immunologists are trained in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of immune system problems such as allergies, asthma, inherited immunodeficiency diseases, autoimmune diseases and even AIDS.
Studies show that those under the care of an allergist/immunologist make fewer visits to emergency rooms, and are better able to daily manage their allergies and asthma.
- Approximately 20 million Americans have asthma. 1
- Nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma. 2
- More than four million children have had an asthma attack in the previous year.2
- More than 70% of people with asthma also suffer from allergies. 3
- 10 million Americans suffer specifically from allergic asthma. 4
- The prevalence of asthma increased 75% from 1980-1994. 5
- Asthma rates in children under the age of five have increased more than 160% from 1980-1994. 5
- In 2003, there were 12.7 million physician office visits and 1.2 million outpatient department visits due to asthma. 1
- There were 1.9 million asthma-related visits to emergency departments in 2002. 1
- There are approximately 5,000 deaths from asthma annually. 1
- Direct health care costs for asthma in the United States total more than $11.5 billion annually; indirect costs (lost productivity) add another $4.6 billion for a total of $16.1 billion. Prescription drugs represented the largest single direct medical expenditure, over $5 billion. 1
- 12.8 million school days are missed annually due to asthma. 1
- The value of reduced productivity due to death represented the largest single indirect cost related to asthma, approaching $1.7 billion. 1
- Asthma accounts for approximately 24.5 million missed work days for adults annually. 1
- Asthma prevalence is 39% higher in African Americans than in whites. 1
- The prevalence of asthma in adult females was 35% greater than the rate in males, in 2003. 1
- Approximately 40% of children who have asthmatic parents will develop asthma. 6
- American Lung Association. Epidemiology & statistics Unit, Research and Program Services. Trends in Asthma Morbidity and Mortality May 2005.
- Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2002. Series 10, Number 221.2004-1549
- National Library of Medicine. Understanding Allergy and Asthma. National Institutes of Health.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Fact Sheet #9: Asthma and its Environmental Triggers: Scientists take a practical new look at a familiar illness
- Centers for Disease Control. Surveillance for Asthma – United States, 1960-1995, MMWR. 1998; 47 (SS-1).
- Martinez FD, Wright AL, Taussig LM, et al.: Asthma and wheezing in the first six years of life,” N Engl J Med 1995; 332:133-138.
(American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, & Immunology)
Statistics related to asthma and allergies:
According to the latest available from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), consider the following statistics:
- More than 17 million people in the US have been diagnosed with asthma.
Asthma is the sixth most common chronic condition in the US.
- Asthma affects more than 4.8 million US children, making it the most common serious and chronic disease among children.
- Asthma accounts for 10 million absences from school each year.
- Asthma is 26 percent more prevalent in African-American children than in Caucasian children.
- African-American children with asthma, most often from inner city populations, generally experience more severe disability from asthma and have more frequent hospitalizations than do Caucasian children.
- Asthma is the third most common cause of childhood hospitalizations under the age of 15.
- More than 200,000 children with asthma experience more severe symptoms due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
- About 10 million visits annually to office-based physicians result in a diagnosis of asthma.
- Asthma cases and asthma deaths have been on the rise. From 1979 to 1996, asthma deaths have risen 120 percent from 2,598 to 5,667.
- Hospitalizations for asthma have increased 256 percent from 1979 to 1996, to 474,100 people annually.
- Asthma treatment costs an estimated $11.3 billion, including direct and indirect expenditures each year.
- Asthma causes nearly 3 million lost workdays each year for people over age 18.
- Previous surveys estimate that allergies affect as many as 40 to 50 million people in the US.
- Pollen allergy (hay fever or allergic rhinitis) affects nearly 10 percent of the people in the US (26 million people), not including those with asthma.
- Allergic dermatitis (itchy rash) is the most common skin condition in children younger than 11 years of age.
- Urticaria (hives; raised areas of reddened skin that become itchy) and angioedema (swelling of throat tissues) together affect approximately 15 percent of the US population every year.
- Chronic sinusitis, most often caused by allergies, affects nearly 35 million people in the US.
- Allergic drug reactions, commonly caused by antibiotics such as penicillin and cephalosporins, occur in 2 to 3 percent of hospitalized patients.
- Eight percent of children younger than 6 years old experience food intolerances. Of this group, 2 to 4 percent appear to have reproducible allergic reactions to food. In adults, an estimated 1 to 2 percent are sensitive to foods or food additives.
- A severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis occurs in 3.3 percent of the US population as a result of insect stings. At least 40 deaths each year result from insect sting anaphylaxis.