SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • epidemiology;
  • population survey;
  • respiratory symptoms;
  • rhinitis;
  • smoking

Abstract

Background

The harmful effects of tobacco smoke on human health, including respiratory health, are extensive and well documented. Previous data on the effect of smoking on rhinitis and allergic sensitization are inconsistent. We sought to investigate how smoking correlates with prevalence of allergic and chronic rhinitis among adults in Sweden.

Methods

The study population comprised 27 879 subjects derived from three large randomly selected cross-sectional population surveys conducted in Sweden between 2006 and 2008. The same postal questionnaire on respiratory health was used in the three surveys, containing questions about obstructive respiratory diseases, rhinitis, respiratory symptoms and possible determinants of disease, including smoking habits. A random sample from one of the cohorts underwent a clinical examination including skin prick testing.

Results

Smoking was associated with a high prevalence of chronic rhinitis in both men and women and a low prevalence of allergic rhinitis in men. These associations were dose dependent and remained when adjusted for a number of possible confounders in multiple logistic regression analysis. Prevalence of chronic rhinitis was lowest in nonsmokers and highest in very heavy smokers (18.5% vs 34.5%, P < 0.001). Prevalence of sensitization to common airborne allergens was lower in current smokers (25.9%, P = 0.008) and ex-smokers (28.2%, P = 0.022) than in nonsmokers (38.5%).

Conclusion

We found that smoking was associated with a high prevalence of chronic rhinitis in both sexes and a low prevalence of allergic rhinitis in men. The associations were dose dependent and remained when adjusting for several possible confounders.