Allergic rhinitis and its impact on otorhinolaryngology


Peter Hellings
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
University Hospitals Leuven
Kapucijnevoer 33
3000 Leuven


Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a disease with growing impact on everyday medical practice, as its prevalence has steadily increased during the last decades. Immunoglobulin-E (IgE)-mediated airway inflammation may manifest itself as AR, asthma or both. Allergic inflammation in upper and lower airways is now considered as one airway disease, with manifestation of symptoms in upper, lower or global airway. This insight into allergic inflammation of the whole respiratory tract has consequences for the diagnostic and therapeutic approach of affected patients, as highlighted in the ARIA document. In contrast to asthma, the link between AR and associated conditions in the upper airways like rhinosinusitis, nasal polyps, recurrent viral infections, adenoid hypertrophy, tubal dysfunction, otitis media with effusion and laryngitis remains less explored. It is however of utmost importance to consider the aetiological role of IgE-mediated inflammation of the nasal mucosa in several diseases of the upper respiratory tract, as they represent a large body of patient population seen by the general practitioner as well as the paediatrician, allergologist and otorhinolaryngologist. We here aim at reviewing the current literature on the relationship between AR and conditions in upper airways frequently encountered in everyday clinical practice, and highlight the need for further studies exploring the role of allergic inflammation in the development of these diseases.