Background: Allergic rhinitis is a common condition, but the burden of this condition on the national economy is not well understood.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to estimate the national direct and indirect costs of allergic rhinitis.
Methods: Data from the National Medical Expenditure Survey were used to provide estimates of resource utilization, medical expenditures, and lost productivity. With the complex survey design, variance estimates were used to construct confidence intervals for cost estimates of resource utilization and lost productivity.
Results: It is estimated that approximately 39 million persons in the United States experienced allergic rhinitis in 1987. However, only 12.3% (4.8 million) sought medical treatment for allergic rhinitis. The total estimated cost of the condition, in 1994 dollars, was $1.23 billion (95% confidence interval, $846 million to $1.62 billion). Direct medical expenses accounted for 94% of total costs. Allergic rhinitis results in approximately 811,000 missed workdays, 824,000 missed school days, and 4,230,000 reduced activity days.
Conclusion: Allergic rhinitis clearly creates a burden in terms of the number of persons affected, total expenditures, and lost productivity. It also appears that a relatively large proportion of persons with allergic rhinitis were not seeking medical treatment.