Epidemiology of allergic rhinitis

Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2014 Sep;4 Suppl 2:S18-20. doi: 10.1002/alr.21385.


Background: Allergic rhinitis (AR) is the archetypal allergic disease otolaryngologists encounter. Epidemiologic studies inform providers of the association of rhinitis symptoms and allergy test results in the broader population. Understanding the epidemiological characteristics of AR is important for interpreting both rhinitis symptoms and allergy tests.

Methods: Articles were selected based on literature review through PubMed and personal knowledge of the author. The largest and highest-quality studies were included. The search selection was not standardized.

Results: Epidemiological studies demonstrate marked variability globally in the prevalence of both rhinitis symptoms and allergy tests. Self-reported seasonal or perennial rhinitis symptoms significantly overestimate the prevalence of AR defined by a positive history and positive allergy tests. Positive allergy tests are also common in those without self-reported rhinitis symptoms.

Conclusion: Interpreting rhinitis symptoms and allergy testing is enhanced by an understanding of the epidemiology of AR.

Keywords: allergic rhinitis; allergy; burden; epidemiology; healthcare burden; pediatric; population; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / diagnosis
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / economics
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / epidemiology*