• house dust mite;
  • nasal symptoms;
  • persistent rhinitis;
  • pollen;
  • quality of life

Background:  Little is known about the natural course of persistent rhinitis symptoms over a prolonged period.

Objective:  To describe the frequency and severity of nasal symptoms and quality of life (QoL) in house dust mite-sensitive persistent rhinitic subjects and to determine if medication use was related to symptoms.

Methods:  Rhinitics and controls were telephoned fortnightly for 1 year to monitor symptoms. QoL was measured every 3 months.

Results:  Thirty-seven rhinitics and 19 controls completed the study. Total nasal symptom scores (TNSS) were ‘high’ for 65% (95% CI ± 6%) of the year in rhinitic subjects. When TNSS increased by 1, the likelihood of nasal medication use increased by 25% (95% CI: 7–46%). General and specific QoL were worse in rhinitic subjects than controls (P < 0.04 and <0.0001). Rhinitics with pollen allergy (n = 21) had seasonal variation in the frequency of high nasal symptom scores (P = 0.02).

Conclusion:  Nasal symptom scores were consistently high in rhinitics, and their QoL was worse than controls, even in general QoL. An increase in nasal symptom score increased the likelihood of nasal medication use. These findings help to characterize the course of persistent rhinitis over a previously unstudied period of 1 year.