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Keywords:

  • ARIA;
  • compliance;
  • guided treatment strategy;
  • intermittent rhinitis;
  • persistent rhinitis

Summary

Epidemiological studies show that the prevalence of asthma and allergic rhinitis (AR) has increased progressively over the past two to three decades. Similarly, there is increasing evidence that asthma and rhinitis frequently co-exist in the same patients and that rhinitis is a risk factor for asthma. Although several guidelines are currently available for the diagnosis and management of AR, the earlier guidelines and their successors were not evidence based, and were developed primarily on the basis of expert opinion, but of course based on the available literature. More recently, the Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) guidelines were published in co-operation with the World Health Organization. These guidelines are evidence based and directed towards managing co-morbid rhinitis and asthma as different manifestations of a single airway disease, rather than as two separate diseases of the nose and the lung. They recommend treatment of AR in a step-wise manner (using a combination of allergen avoidance, pharmacotherapy and immunotherapy), based on the duration and severity of disease, rather than on the basis of type of exposure (i.e seasonal, perennial, occupational), as recommended by previous guidelines. The ARIA guidelines recognize that both the availability and the cost of a particular intervention are likely to determine patient compliance, and therefore recommends a flexible approach based on availability and cost of specific interventions in different countries. Despite the availability of treatment guidelines, there is evidence that the severity of disease is often diagnosed and treated inappropriately by general practitioners (GPs), who frequently do not use a guided treatment strategy, leading to low patient satisfaction and compliance. This suggests a clear need to implement the guidelines among GPs, especially since the vast majority of patients generally trust their GPs to provide appropriate information and optimal medication for the management of their disease.