Background: Studies suggest that nasal treatment might influence lower airway symptoms and function in patients with comorbid rhinitis and asthma. We investigated the effect of intranasal, inhaled corticosteroid or the combination of both in patients with both pollen-induced rhinitis and asthma.
Methods: A total of 262 patients were randomized to 6 weeks' treatment with intranasal fluticasone propionate (INFP) 200 microg o.d., inhaled fluticasone propionate (IHFP) 250 microg b.i.d., their combination, or intranasal or inhaled placebo, in a multicentre, double-blind, parallel-group study. Treatment was started 2 weeks prior to the pollen season and patients recorded their nasal and bronchial symptoms twice daily. Before and after 4 and 6 weeks' treatment, the patients were assessed for lung function, methacholine responsiveness, and induced sputum cell counts.
Results: Intranasal fluticasone propionate significantly increased the percentages of patients reporting no nasal blockage, sneezing, or rhinorrhoea during the pollen season, compared with IHFP or intranasal or inhaled placebo. In contrast, only IHFP significantly improved morning peak-flow, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and methacholine PD20, and the seasonal increase in the sputum eosinophils and methacholine responsiveness.
Conclusions: In patients with pollen-induced rhinitis and asthma, the combination of intranasal and IHFP is needed to control the seasonal increase in nasal and asthmatic symptoms.