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Allergic rhinitis: assessing the triggers and treatments

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Hayfever affects up to 400 million people worldwide, and its prevalence is increasing

Allergic rhinitis (AR) remains the most common immunological disease in man and is still subject to under-recognition and poor management.1 AR has a significant impact on quality of life, leading to both performance and attendance issues at school and work.2,3

The nose is the gateway to the respiratory tract, and rhinitis is associated with symptoms in the eyes, sinuses, middle ear, the nasopharynx and lower airways. Both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis are risk factors for the development of asthma.4 Rhinitis impairs asthma control and increases its costs.4 It is important to recognise rhinitis and ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment.4

Rhinitis refers to inflammation of the nasal mucosal passage and is defined by inflammation leading to a variety of symptoms, including sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, nasal discharge, and postnasal drip (the sensation that mucus is draining from the sinuses down the back of the throat). When the conjunctivae are also involved, the term rhino-conjunctivitis is more accurate.4

Rhinitis can be classified into many phenotypes, usually divided into allergic, non-allergic and infective, as well as mixed forms.

Allergic rhinitis – usually caused by a seasonal or perennial allergen.

Infective rhinitis – caused by congestion of the nasal mucosa can lead to occlusion of the sinus ostia, predisposing to acute symptoms.

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