The cost of productivity losses associated with allergic rhinitis

Am J Manag Care. 2000 Mar;6(3):373-8.


Objective: To measure the cost of absenteeism and reduced productivity associated with allergic rhinitis.

Methods: The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) was used to obtain information on days lost from work and lost productivity due to allergic rhinitis. Wage estimates for occupations obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) were used to calculate the costs.

Results: Productivity losses associated with a diagnosis of allergic rhinitis in the 1995 NHIS were estimated to be $601 million. When additional survey information on the use of sedating over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications, as well as workers' self-assessments of their reduction in at-work productivity due to allergic rhinitis, were considered, the estimated productivity loss increased dramatically. At-work productivity losses were estimated to range from $2.4 billion to $4.6 billion.

Conclusion: Despite the inherent difficulty of measuring productivity losses, our lowest estimate is several times higher than previous estimates of the indirect medical costs associated with allergic rhinitis treatment. The most significant productivity losses resulted not from absenteeism but from reduced at-work productivity associated with the use of sedating OTC antihistamines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Efficiency*
  • Health Surveys
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / drug therapy
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / economics*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / epidemiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / drug therapy
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / economics*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Histamine H1 Antagonists