Allergies – Facts and Figures

An allergy is an immune system error leading to chronic inflammation at the sites on the body that come into contact with the environment. Allergies are made worse by the living conditions in modern industrialised countries. We know today that increased hygiene, environmental pollution, climate change and the resulting changes in vegetation, and the globalisation of the food market are only some of the factors involved in the spread of allergies.

According to data from a health study conducted by the Robert Koch Institute, the prevalence of allergies in Germany among 18 to 79-year-olds is currently 30%.  Women suffer more frequently from allergies, at 35.8%, than men (24.1%). The most common allergic disease is hay fever, followed by asthma, atopic dermatitis and contact allergies. Allergic diseases strike 26.6% of children and adolescents. There is a high ratio of allergy sufferers to doctors who are able to provide them with proper treatment. An enquiry made in April 2016 to the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) revealed that only 3.5% of all SHI-accredited doctors possessed additional qualifications in allergology in 2015.

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Due to the current healthcare situation, many patients are on their own when it comes to therapy and treatment. Every untreated allergy is not only a personal story of suffering; it is also an avoidable financial burden on the social economy. For example, the costs per patient with allergic rhinitis (such as hay fever) amount to around €1,545 per year. This figure includes direct costs for treatment and indirect costs incurred from incapacity for work. When hay fever is not treated correctly, it often leads to what is called the ‘allergic march’ – a progression to allergic asthma. Various studies have demonstrated that the annual costs for a patient with chronic asthma and concomitant allergic rhinitis are on average six times higher than the costs for allergic rhinitis alone. Experts have calculated that Europe could save €84 billion per year if allergies were treated properly.

Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. T. Zuberbier
Last changes made: July 2016


Langen U, Schmitz R, Steppuhn H. Häufigkeit allergischer Erkrankungen in Deutschland- Ergebnisse der Studie zur Gesundheit Erwachsener in Deutschland (DEGS1). Bundesgesundheitsbl. 2013;56(5-6):698-706.

Further information

Poethko-Müller C, Thamm M, Thamm R. Heuschnupfen und Asthma bei Kindern und Jugendlichen in Deutschland – Querschnittergebnisse aus KiGGS Welle 2 und Trends. Journal of Health Monitoring. 2018;3(1):55-9.

Schmitz R, Kuhnert R, Thamm M. 12-Monats-Prävalenz von Allergien in Deutschland. Journal of Health Monitoring. 2017;2(1):77-82.


Tags: Allergy