Rhinitis symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1998 Oct;81(4):359-65. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)63129-8.


Background: Atopy and allergic rhinitis are thought to be increased in prevalence in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Methods: To investigate this hypothesis, 51 CFS (CFS), 34 normal (N), 27 allergic rhinitis (AR), and 17 patients with other rheumatologic diseases filled out an Airway Symptom Severity self-report questionnaire to determine the frequencies of nasal, sinus, and chest symptoms, and a Systemic Complaints self-report questionnaire to determine the frequencies of complaints referable to neurologic, rheumatologic, gastrointestinal, and other systems. All subjects received a standard set of allergy skin tests, and were subdivided into those with positive and negative results.

Results: Allergy skin tests were positive in 35% of CFS and 44% of N subjects (difference not significant by Chi2). Significant rhinitis complaints were present in 83% of skin test positive CFS, 76% of skin test negative CFS, 74% of AR, and 23% of N subjects. Systemic Complaints scores were significantly elevated in skin test positive (94%) and negative (94%) CFS groups compared with AR (35%) and N (6%) groups. This score could significantly discriminate between CFS and N subjects.

Conclusions: These data indicate that in this CFS population, 24% had no significant rhinitis complaints, 30% had positive skin tests suggesting the potential for allergic rhinitis complaints, and 46% had nonallergic rhinitis. The mechanism of the nonallergic component may offer insights into the pathogenesis of CFS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / complications*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / complications*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires