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Keywords:

  • allergic rhinitis;
  • ARIA;
  • management;
  • primary care

Allergic rhinitis is a major chronic respiratory disease because of its prevalence, impacts on quality of life and work/school performance, economic burden, and links with asthma. Family doctors (also known as ‘primary care physicians’ or ‘general practitioners’) play a major role in the management of allergic rhinitis as they make the diagnosis, start the treatment, give the relevant information, and monitor most of the patients. Disease management that follows evidence-based practice guidelines yields better patient results, but such guidelines are often complicated and may recommend the use of resources not available in the family practice setting. A joint expert panel of the World Organization of Family Doctors (Wonca), the International Primary Care Airways Group (IPAG) and the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG), offers support to family doctors worldwide by distilling the globally accepted, evidence-based recommendations from the Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) initiative into this brief reference guide.

This guide provides tools intended to supplement a thorough history taking and the clinician’s professional judgment in order to provide the best possible care for patients with allergic rhinitis. A diagnostic Questionnaire specifically focuses the physician’s attention on key symptoms and markers of the disease. When questionnaire responses suggest a diagnosis of allergic rhinitis, a Diagnosis Guide and a simple flowchart then lead the clinician through a series of investigations commonly available in primary care to support the diagnosis. In addition, key aspects of differential diagnosis are illuminated.

According to ARIA, allergic rhinitis may be classified as Intermittent or Persistent, and as Mild or Moderate/Severe. The classification of rhinitis determines the treatment necessary, as set out in an ARIA flowchart included in this guide. The guide also includes information about the strength of evidence for efficacy of certain rhinitis treatments, a brief discussion of pediatric aspects, and a glossary of allergic rhinitis medications to assist the clinician in making medication choices for each individual patient. Finally, many patients with allergic rhinitis also have concomitant asthma, and this must be checked.

The World Organization of Family Doctors has been delegated by WHO as the group that will be taking primary responsibility for education about chronic respiratory diseases among primary care physicians globally. This document will be a major resource in this educational program.