Allergies are going nowhere but up. One in five Americans now suffer from allergies, accounting for 17 million doctors appointments and 30,000 emergency room visits each year. And the numbers are on the rise, according to a large new study from the medical testing and information company Quest Diagnostics.

Plumbing the largest data set of its kind — including more than two million patient visits for allergies over four years — Quest analyzed the results of blood tests to 11 common allergens: five foods, common ragweed, mold, two species of house dust mites, cat epithelia (skin), and dog dander.

Here’s a rundown of the study’s main findings:

1. Ragweed and mold allergies are up — blame climate change.
2. Kids are more allergic than adults.
3. Poor kids are less likely to be tested early, increasing their risk for asthma and other more severe allergies later in life.
4. Men may be more allergic than women.
5. Some U.S. cities are more allergic than others.

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By Meredith Melnick
May 27, 2011