• allergic rhinitis;
  • epidemiological survey;
  • general practice

Background: The actual management of intermittent allergic rhinitis is still little known about, despite the disease being very prevalent. We used a cross-sectional survey to address this issue in everyday general medical practice in France.

Methods: A total of 1321 general practitioners enrolled 3026 patients consulting for a spring exacerbation of allergic rhinitis. Both doctors and patients filled out a specific questionnaire on allergic rhinitis.

Results: These patients consulted their doctor two-and-a-half weeks, on average, after the onset of their symptoms. They were bothered for an average of six days per week (5.9 ± 1.7 days) and for two months per year (8.7 ± 7.7 weeks) by symptoms which largely exceed the ENT (ear, nose and throat) field, with ocular symptoms (51.7%), pharyngeal irritation (39.0%), cough (30.8%), or respiratory discomfort (17.9%). Of these patients 79.2% had some impairment of their professional life and 91.8% of their daily life. Fifty percent of patients knew to what allergens they were allergic; only 11.1% had additional laboratory tests and 10.3% had subsequent specialist consultation (for most this was with an allergologist). Prescribed drugs were oral antihistamines (92.4%) and nasal glucocorticosteroids (45.2%). Prescriptions were written for a duration of six weeks on average. Seventy-nine percent of patients considered that the information they had received was adequate and easy to understand, but 58.2% of patients would have liked more advice. Furthermore, only 54.7% followed their doctor's prescription scrupulously, and 44% used frequent self-medication.

Conclusions: Intermittent allergic rhinitis is a real health problem because of its increasing prevalence, the induction of impaired quality of life and loss of performance, especially at work. General practitioners play a major role in this disorder; they make the diagnosis, start the treatment, give the relevant information, and monitor most of the patients.