Survey Reveals Unmet Needs Among Patients with Allergic Rhinitis

SRxA’s Word on Health team spent the last week attending the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In addition to spending quality time with many of our KOL Allergy Advisors and pharmaceutical clients, we were able to catch up with some of the latest research on allergic rhinitis (AR).

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction that happens when the immune system overreacts to inhaled, such as pollen. This causes release of a type of antibody, known as IgE, into the nasal passages, along with inflammatory chemicals such as histamines. The two types of allergic rhinitis are seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis, which occurs year-round. Hay fever is caused by outdoor allergens. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold.

Results from a recent pivotal AR satisfaction survey assessing patient and healthcare provider perspectives on AR reveal that symptoms like nasal congestion and post-nasal drip continue to impact patients’ daily activities.

Findings from the Nasal Allergy Survey Assessing Limitations (NASL) 2010, highlight the continued unmet need for more effective treatment options to help reduce symptoms and overall disease burden of AR.

The prevalence of AR in the U.S. has increased during the past three decades.  It is now estimated that 20% of the general adult population and almost 40% of children have the condition.  Of the estimated 60 million Americans affected with AR, approximately 20% have seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), 40% have perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR), and 40% have a combination of the two (i.e., PAR with seasonal exacerbations) depending on the allergen sensitivity.

In other words, one in 5 adults and almost half of children suffer from symptoms including:

  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Red, itchy, and watery eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Itchy mouth, throat, ears, and face
  • Sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Headaches, facial pain or pressure
  • Partial loss of hearing, smell, and taste
  • Fatigue
  • Dark circles under the eyes

According to NASL 2010, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip and repeated sneezing continue to be the most frequently reported nasal allergy symptoms among patients. Beyond physical symptoms, AR patients experience emotional burdens, like feeling tired and miserable. When assessing the impact nasal allergies have on productivity, the survey revealed that patients are less productive when their nasal allergies are at their worst, limiting them from doing well at work.

It’s clear from the NASL 2010 findings that the estimated 60 million people living with allergic rhinitis in the U.S. are still significantly affected, both physically and emotionally, by symptoms,” said Gary Gross, M.D. FAAAAI, Dallas Allergy & Asthma Center, Dallas, Texas. “This is a continuing trend we’re seeing in patients having allergic rhinitis as these findings are similar to those released in a past survey evaluating disease burden on patients. The NASL survey results further support the need for more effective treatment options that address these specific issues for patients living with allergic rhinitis.”

Nasal allergies can make it difficult for people to take part in both indoor and outdoor activities if their symptoms are not well controlled. According to NASL 2010, less than 20% of surveyed patients felt their nasal allergies were completely controlled over a one week time period. The vast majority of allergists, otolaryngologists and primary care providers interviewed in the survey stated intranasal corticosteroid sprays as their preferred treatment of choice for adults with moderate to severe persistent nasal allergies.

Because of its prevalence and health effects, AR is associated with considerable direct and indirect costs.  Latest estimates suggest that AR alone results in a staggering  $11.2 billion in healthcare costs, 12 million physician office visits, 2 million days of school absences and 3.5 million lost work days per year. In addition, the presence of co-morbidities such as asthma and sinusitis further increase AR-related treatment costs.

Word on Health will be bringing you more from AAAAI in the coming days, including some exciting new treatment options being developed for allergic rhinitis.

Hot Tips for Cold Weather

While the blizzard of Christmas 2010 may have brought misery to many, it probably brought much-needed relief  to hayfever and outdoor allergy sufferers.

However, winter brings with it a whole new set of allergy and asthma triggers including dust, pet dander and mold. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) offers tips on how to stay sneeze and sniffle free indoors this winter.

  • Reduce moisture in your home to keep dust mites in check. Maintain humidity below 55%, and don’t use a humidifier or a vaporizer.
  • Filter out dust and other allergens by installing a high efficiency furnace filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12, and be sure to change it every three months.
  • Banish allergens from the bedroom. Keep pets and their dander out, and encase mattresses and pillows with dust-mite proof covers. Limit curtains – use blinds that can be washed instead.
  • Keep it clean. A clean home is especially important for allergy sufferers, who should wear a NIOSH-rated N95 mask while dusting, a chore that should be done regularly.
  • Wash bedding and stuffed animals in hot water every 14 days and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Turn on the fan or open the window to reduce mold growth in bathrooms (while bathing) and kitchens (while cooking). Wear latex-free gloves and clean visible mold with a five-percent bleach solution and detergent.
  • Don’t overlook the garage. Noxious odors or fumes can trigger asthma, so move insecticides, stored gasoline and other irritants to a shed, and don’t start the car and let it run in the garage.
  • Box up books and knick-knacks and limit the number of indoor plants. When you are buying new furniture, like chairs or sofas, opt for leather or other nonporous surfaces to make cleaning easier.

Need more advice on allergies?  Want to get the word out about your allergy brands?  SRxA’s team of world-class allergy advisors can help.