To cite this article: Alsowaidi S, Abdulle A, Shehab A, Zuberbier T, Bernsen R. Allergic rhinitis: prevalence and possible risk factors in a Gulf Arab population. Allergy 2010; 65: 208–212 DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02123.x.
Background: Epidemiological studies mainly from Europe, the USA and Asia indicate a high prevalence of allergic rhinitis (AR) in modern societies. However, little is known about AR among the heterogeneous population of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of AR and its independent risk factors in Al-Ain City, UAE.
Methods: We used a validated, self-administered questionnaire modified from the ISAAC study to collect data from a two stage randomly selected sample of 10 000 school children. Overall, 7550 subjects (aged 13 years and above, siblings, and their parents) responded. We assessed the prevalence of AR (both crude and standardized prevalence of previous 12 months) as well as the independent relationship of AR with age, gender, education, nationality and family history by means of logistic regression.
Results: The response rate was 76%. A total of 6543 subjects (median age 30 years) were included in the final analysis. Self-reported prevalence of AR (having symptoms in the past 12 months) was 36%, while adjusted values for sex/age yielded a prevalence of 32%. Regression analysis revealed that AR was independently associated with family history, Arab origin, younger age, female gender and higher education.
Conclusions: The relatively high prevalence of AR found in this study may be attributable to modernization and genetic factors. Further studies on the impact of rapid environmental and cultural changes on AR in the Arab countries are needed and currently planned in conjunction with GA2LEN (Global Allergy and Asthma European Network).