Allergic rhinitis

Lancet. 2011 Dec 17;378(9809):2112-22. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60130-X. Epub 2011 Jul 23.


Allergic rhinitis is a very common disorder that affects people of all ages, peaking in the teenage years. It is frequently ignored, underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and mistreated, which not only is detrimental to health but also has societal costs. Although allergic rhinitis is not a serious illness, it is clinically relevant because it underlies many complications, is a major risk factor for poor asthma control, and affects quality of life and productivity at work or school. Management of allergic rhinitis is best when directed by guidelines. A diagnostic trial of a pharmacotherapeutic agent could be started in people with clinically identified allergic rhinitis; however, to confirm the diagnosis, specific IgE reactivity needs to be recorded. Documented IgE reactivity has the added benefit of guiding implementation of environmental controls, which could substantially ameliorate symptoms of allergic rhinitis and might prevent development of asthma, especially in an occupational setting. Many classes of drug are available, effective, and safe. In meta-analyses, intranasal corticosteroids are superior to other treatments, have a good safety profile, and treat all symptoms of allergic rhinitis effectively. First-generation antihistamines are associated with sedation, psychomotor retardation, and reduced academic performance. Only immunotherapy with individually targeted allergens has the potential to alter the natural history of allergic rhinitis. Patients' education is a vital component of treatment. Even with the best pharmacotherapy, one in five affected individuals remains highly symptomatic, and further research is needed in this area.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial* / complications
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial* / diagnosis
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial* / physiopathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial* / therapy
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal* / complications
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal* / diagnosis
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal* / physiopathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal* / therapy