Background: Asthma is a common and costly condition. Concomitant asthma and allergic rhinitis (AR) have been shown to increase the medication costs for people with asthma. No studies have compared medical care costs of those with and without concomitant AR.
Objectives: We sought to determine the prevalence and incremental medical care costs of concomitant AR.
Methods: For each member of a population-based asthma cohort, we used all their medical charts within Olmsted County to record age at first diagnosis of asthma; the presence and age of any diagnosis of AR; and the total, ambulatory, and respiratory care-related costs of medical care. Costs were compared for age- and sex-specific strata of people with asthma who did and did not have AR.
Results: AR was most commonly diagnosed in people whose asthma was diagnosed before age 25 (prevalence of 59%) and uncommonly diagnosed in anyone after age 40 (prevalence <15%). Yearly medical care charges were on average 46% higher for those with asthma and concomitant AR than for persons with asthma alone, controlling for age and sex. We were unable to assess the impact of treatment of AR on medical care charges.
Conclusions: Physicians should consider the diagnosis of AR (prevalence >50%) in all symptomatic children and young adults with asthma. Further evaluation is necessary to evaluate the ability of treatment to decrease the incremental costs of AR in persons with asthma.