Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in the Australian population: burden of disease and attitudes to intranasal corticosteroid treatment.

BACKGROUND:

Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (AR/C) is a global health problem causing significant morbidity and has a major impact on quality of life (QOL) and health expenditure. Despite the widespread prevalence, the overall health impact of AR/C may be underappreciated. The results of a survey designed to capture the burden of allergic rhinitis within the Asia-Pacific region have been published recently. Of particular note when evaluating treatment in this region was the fact that despite the value of intranasal corticosteroid (INCS) use, only a small percentage of patients used them. Whether this same trend is present within the population of Australian sufferers is unknown. This study examines the burden of AR/C and explores use of, and attitudes, to INCS sprays in the Australian population.

METHODS:

Three hundred three completed interviews from adults and children who had physician-diagnosed AR/C and who were symptomatic or had received treatment in the previous 12 months were analyzed for QOL measures and attitudes to INCS use.

RESULTS:

Most patients surveyed had received their diagnosis from a general practitioner (GP), and in most cases, a GP provided the majority of ongoing medical care. Only 8% of respondents had consulted a relevant specialist. Diagnostic tests had not been performed in 55% of respondents. The major symptoms causing most distress were nasal congestion and ocular symptoms. The burden of AR/C was considerable; 42% described significant work or school interference because of symptoms, one-third reporting moderate-to-extreme interference with sleep. Despite the significant impact on QOL reported by this sample, 17% had never used INCS and 27% had not used them in the previous 12 months. Respondents' knowledge about INCSs was poor.

CONCLUSION:

AR/C is a common disease associated with significant morbidity and impairment of QOL. Improvement in diagnosis, management, and patient education is needed.

 

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