Background Several studies have provided evidence of a strong association between asthma and rhinitis, with consequences in terms of therapy and disease management.
Objectives The aims of our study were to evaluate physicians' knowledge about rhinitis/asthma comorbidity, to note the patients' management behaviour and to assess the patients' experience about symptoms and expectations, and to investigate the clinical and psychological meaning of general practitioners' and patients' awareness.
Methods One hundred and one general practitioners and 504 asthmatic patients participated in the study. General practitioners and patients filled in two different multiple choice questionnaires concerning asthma–rhinitis link and impact.
Results 34.7% of general practitioners are aware of the link between asthma and rhinitis, and 43.6% of them hypothesize the comorbidity on the basis of their clinical experience. 21.8% of physicians make the diagnosis autonomously. 27.8% of asthmatic patients experience three or less rhinitic symptoms, 41% from four to six symptoms and 31.2 more than six symptoms. These symptoms deeply interfere with daily life, causing sleep problems (87.3%), lack of concentration (78.9%), difficulties in spare time (71.8%) and sport (71.7%). Rhinitis symptoms are responsible for the worsening of asthma, with an increase in dyspnoea (86.3%), cough (73.9%), and wheezing (59%). Ninety-three percent of patients expressed an interest in a combination therapy approach.
Conclusions Asthma and rhinitis interact in the development of clinical burden and impact on quality of life. The survey results showed different perspectives when evaluated from clinical and psychological points of view.