The Financial Impact of Living With Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies can have a broad impact on your quality of life. Yes, allergies affect you physically and mentally, but they also impact your finances. Plus, when it is hard to control your exposure to pollen, mold, and other allergens, it can dampen your social life.1

Economically, most of the costs are linked to high levels of missed school or work, or being less productive at school or work.1

Allergies are expensive

Each year in the United States, allergies cost us more than $18 billion. Even with insurance, there are co-pays for doctor visits, plus allergy shots, epinephrine auto-injectors, and over-the-counter and prescription drugs to buy. Other costs include:2,3

  • Missed work due to doctor visits
  • Medical alert jewelry
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and dehumidifiers
  • HEPA filters for vacuum cleaners
  • Buying masks for being outdoors or cleaning
  • Non-allergic bed linens and covers
  • Extra cleaning supplies and time spent cleaning
  • Allergies that trigger asthma and land you in the ER or hospital

It can also be expensive to change your home to improve indoor air quality. Examples of these expenses include:2,3

  • Getting rid of carpet and rugs
  • Mold remediation
  • Exterminator bills to kill roaches or stinging insects
  • Replacing old drapes, blinds, upholstered furniture, and bedding
  • Upgrading or replacing older heating and air conditioning systems
  • Replacing air filters more often

One study found that exposure to indoor dampness and mold results in roughly $4 billion in costs for hay fever (allergic rhinitis) alone.4

At home and work

At work, you may need to avoid certain areas of the building. People may bring their dogs to the office. The warehouse may be moldy or dusty. Office cleaning products may be heavily perfumed. Reactions to these conditions may trigger allergy symptoms that result in missed work.

At home, you may need to spend more time than others keeping your home as clean as possible. You may have to use air conditioning more often to keep humidity low and keep your windows closed during allergy season.3

If you have a pet allergy, you need to avoid visiting friends who have cats or dogs. A severe allergy may mean pet-owning friends cannot come over to your house because dander sticks to their clothes. Or, you may need to rehome your pets, which can create conflict in your family and emotional distress.

How environmental allergies affect your social life depends on your allergies and your hobbies and interests. If you have seasonal allergies, you might find yourself avoiding outdoor activities. This could get in the way of birthday parties, barbecues, picnics, and simple walks with friends.

Future impact of allergies

The National Wildlife Federation and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America predicted in 2010 that climate change would make environmental allergies worse in the coming years. Rising rates of respiratory allergies seem to support this idea. Studies show:5

  • Ragweed grows faster and produces more pollen that has a higher allergen content when carbon dioxide levels increase
  • Longer growing seasons mean plants produce more pollen later into the fall
  • More airborne allergens mean more asthma attacks for those with allergic asthma
  • Urban heat islands result in more pollen production and air pollution
  • Poison ivy grows faster and is more potent

Simply being more aware of the social and financial costs of allergies can help you and your doctor find better ways to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

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Written by: Jessica Johns Pool │ Last reviewed: March 2022