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Prevalence and classification of rhinitis in the elderly: a nationwide survey in Portugal

Authors

  • M. Morais-Almeida,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sociedade Portuguesa de Alergologia e Imunologia Clínica (SPAIC), Lisbon, Portugal
    • Immunoallergy Department, Hospital CUF-Descobertas and Hospital CUF-Infante Santo, Lisbon, Portugal
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  • H. Pite,

    1. Immunoallergy Department, Hospital CUF-Descobertas and Hospital CUF-Infante Santo, Lisbon, Portugal
    2. Sociedade Portuguesa de Alergologia e Imunologia Clínica (SPAIC), Lisbon, Portugal
    3. Pharmacology Department, CEDOC, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Lisbon, Portugal
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  • A. M. Pereira,

    1. Immunoallergy Department, Hospital CUF-Descobertas and Hospital CUF-Infante Santo, Lisbon, Portugal
    2. Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department, Hospital S. João EPE, Porto, Portugal
    3. Health Information and Decision Sciences Department, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
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  • A. Todo-Bom,

    1. Sociedade Portuguesa de Alergologia e Imunologia Clínica (SPAIC), Lisbon, Portugal
    2. Immunoallergy Department, Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
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  • C. Nunes,

    1. Sociedade Portuguesa de Alergologia e Imunologia Clínica (SPAIC), Lisbon, Portugal
    2. Centro de Imunoalergologia do Algarve, Portimão, Portugal
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  • J. Bousquet,

    1. Department of Allergy and Respiratory Diseases, University Hospital and INSERM, Montpellier, France
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  • J. Fonseca

    1. Sociedade Portuguesa de Alergologia e Imunologia Clínica (SPAIC), Lisbon, Portugal
    2. Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department, Hospital S. João EPE, Porto, Portugal
    3. Health Information and Decision Sciences Department, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
    4. Allergy Unit, Hospital-CUF Porto and Instituto CUF-Diagnóstico e Tratamento, Porto, Portugal
    5. CINTESIS – Center for Research in Health Technologies and Information Systems, Porto, Portugal
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  • Edited by: Wytske Fokkens

Correspondence

Mário Morais-Almeida, MD, Department of Immunoallergy, Hospital CUF-Descobertas, Rua Mário Botas 1998-018 Lisbon, Portugal.

Tel.: +351-917232267

Fax: +351-213582301

E-mail: mmoraisalmeida@netcabo.pt

Abstract

Background

Nationwide epidemiologic data on rhinitis in the elderly do not exist. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of rhinitis in the population aged 65 years or above in mainland Portugal and to characterize and classify rhinitis in this age group.

Methods

Cross-sectional, nationwide, population-based survey of citizens aged 65 years or above, living in mainland Portugal. Current rhinitis (CR) was defined as the presence of at least two symptoms: ‘repeated sneezing and itchy nose’, ‘blocked nose for more than one whole hour’, or ‘runny nose when not having a cold or flu’, either usually or in the last 12 months.

Rhinitis severity was assessed using a visual analogue scale; rhinitis was classified according to ARIA.

Results

Data were obtained from 3678 responders (92.5% response rate). The prevalence of CR was 29.8% (95% confidence interval (CI): 28.4%–31.3%): 49.1% had mild intermittent, 7.0% mild persistent, 27.5% moderate-severe intermittent, and 16.4% moderate-severe persistent rhinitis. Only 38.6% of patients with CR had been physician diagnosed and 38.7% were under treatment for this disease in the previous year. Allergic conjunctivitis symptoms were referred by 68.6% of subjects with CR (rhinoconjunctivitis population prevalence, 20.5% (95% CI: 19.2%–21.8%)).

Conclusions

Rhinitis and rhinoconjunctivitis are common but underdiagnosed and undertreated diseases in the geriatric population. This was the first nationwide epidemiological survey classifying rhinitis according to ARIA guidelines in this age group. More than 40% of old-age patients presented moderate-severe disease.

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