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