Background: In patients with all_ergic rhinitis (AR), various instruments have been validated for the measurement of quality of life (QOL), which may be greatly reduced. However, it is not clear which QOL instruments should be used for the different types of AR and whether they are sensitive to treatment.
Methods: The QOL of patients suffering from symptomatic seasonal AR (sSAR) (before and during treatment with a topical or systemic antihistamine), symptomatic perennial AR (sPAR), and asymptomatic seasonal AR (aSAR) was determined with the Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (RQLQ) as disease specific and with the Munich Life Dimension List (MLDL) and the Visual Analogue Scale for Quality of Life (VAS-QOL) as generic QOL instruments.
Results: The different forms of AR were associated with typical QOL patterns. In sSAR, we found severe limitation of the global QOL, reduced global life satisfaction, high ranking of practical problems, high limitation of activity, and a high degree of disturbance in all_ subscales of the RQLQ. In sPAR, there were moderate limitation of the global QOL, normal global life satisfaction, high ranking of practical problems, moderate limitation of activity, and a high degree of disturbance by common symptoms. Under antihistamine treatment, both systemic and nasal, a significant improvement of QOL parameters was found, reaching the levels of patients with aSAR after 2 weeks.
Conclusions: QOL instruments can distinguish the impairment resulting from sSAR from that of sPAR and are sensitive to treatment with topical and systemic antihistamines. However, as the RQLQ was not designed to measure the short-term variations of disease status that appear in SAR, it may not demonstrate the rapid improvement of QOL under antihistamine treatment.