Identification and management of undiagnosed and undertreated allergic rhinitis in adults and children


Michael G. Stewart, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 1305 York Ave, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a common health problem that affects adults, adolescents and children and is often undiagnosed or inadequately treated. Because AR is not a life-threatening disease, many patients do not seek medical treatment for their symptoms, and others self-medicate with over-the-counter medications, often sedating antihistamines. However, untreated or inadequately treated AR can substantially impair overall quality of life (QOL) by causing fatigue, headache, cognitive impairment and other problems. The risk for comorbid conditions, such as asthma, otitis media, and lymphoid hypertrophy with obstructive sleep apnea, can increase, and the symptoms of AR can worsen if AR is not adequately treated. Among the symptoms of AR, nasal congestion has been described by patients as the most bothersome because it disrupts sleep, resulting in diminished daytime performance. A new congestion screening tool, the Congestion Quantifier, has been developed to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of AR and to help guide treatment decisions. Intranasal corticosteroids (INSs) are recommended as effective pharmaceutical treatments for controlling the symptoms of AR. Randomized, controlled trials in children and adults have demonstrated that INSs relieve rhinitis symptoms, thereby improving QOL in individuals with seasonal or perennial AR. Most INSs are approved for use in children geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted6 years of age, but mometasone furoate and fluticasone furoate are approved for use in children as young as 2 years of age and fluticasone propionate for children geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted4 years old. Long-term benefits have also been seen with the use of immunotherapy, although some patients, especially children, resist the injections used in subcutaneous immunotherapy. Recent studies with sublingual immunotherapy have indicated that it might be an effective and well-tolerated alternative to immunotherapy injections.