Seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) is a common disorder affecting up to 20 per cent of the population.1 Symptoms include nasal irritation, sneezing, itching, rhinorrhoea and nasal blockage, which may be intermittent or persistent. These symptoms may lead to sleep disturbance, adversely affecting quality of life (QoL) and learning ability in school age children, and can contribute to a drop in grades in examinations taken in the summer months. Accurate diagnosis and optimal management of SAR is essential to minimise the effects on the individual.
The prevalence of allergic rhinitis varies worldwide and the UK has the highest incidence in Western Europe.2 It can considerably impact an individual's quality of life and daily functioning, and the number of children it is affecting has doubled in recent years.3 Rhinitis occurs mostly in patients aged 15 to 25 years, with a higher prevalence of rhinitis in boys than girls.4 It has been suggested that sensitisation occurs in very early life when the immune system is immature4 and that a range of environmental factors may also modify the individual's outcome in terms of sensitisation, such as:
Exposure to microbes postnatally.5