Management of Allergic Rhinitis: A Review for the Community Pharmacist

Clin Ther. 2017 Dec;39(12):2410-2419. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2017.10.006. Epub 2017 Oct 25.


Purpose: Allergic rhinitis is a highly prevalent disease affecting the quality of life of millions of North Americans. The management of allergic rhinitis includes allergen avoidance, pharmacotherapy, and immunotherapy. Current pharmacologic options include oral and intranasal antihistamines, intranasal corticosteroids, oral and intranasal decongestants, oral and intranasal anticholinergics, and leukotriene receptor antagonists. Second-generation oral antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids are the mainstays of treatment, with practice guidelines recommending intranasal corticosteroids as first-line treatment for moderate to severe allergic rhinitis.

Methods: Clinical trials studying a widely used intranasal corticosteroid, fluticasone propionate, in comparison with second-generation oral antihistamines, cetirizine, loratadine, or montelukast, were selected to support the comparative review of the efficacy and tolerability of these 2 classes of medications. Studies evaluating the combination of fluticasone propionate with an oral antihistamine were also included to review the efficacy and tolerability of combination therapy to treat allergic rhinitis.

Findings: Studies comparing fluticasone propionate with cetirizine had mixed findings; fluticasone propionate was found to have equal or greater efficacy in reducing nasal symptom scores. Combination therapy of fluticasone propionate and the oral antihistamine, loratadine, was found to have efficacy comparable with that of intranasal corticosteroid alone.

Implications: Many of these medications are available over the counter in the pharmacy, and the community pharmacist plays an important role as part of the patient's health care team in managing this disease. Pharmacotherapy is patient-specific, based on type, duration, and severity of symptoms, comorbidities, prior treatment, and patient preference. This article aims to provide an overview of the pathophysiology, available treatment options, guideline recommendations, and role of the pharmacist for this disease.

Keywords: allergic rhinitis; antihistamines; community pharmacy; corticosteroids; pharmacists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Histamine Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Pharmacists
  • Professional Role
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / drug therapy*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Histamine Antagonists