Nasal Allergies Burden Health and Sleep

November 11, 2012 — Allergic rhinitis imposes a serious burden on the health and sleep patterns of Americans, according to data presented and the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

In a case-controlled study of almost 8,903 patients, presented at the meeting and funded by Teva Pharmaceuticals, investigators found that patients with newly diagnosed allergic rhinitis were less likely to undergo subsequent multiple hospitalizations for asthma if they received the accepted first-line treatment, a steroid nasal spray. The retrospective analysis was conducted using data from the Florida Medicaid program. The lead investigator was Cheryl Hankin of BioMedEcon, a health economics research organization.

Calling for greater attention to the health consequences of allergic rhinitis, Dr. Eli Meltzer said, “The duration and severity of AR symptoms can have a substantial burden on a patient’s quality of life.” Meltzer is a Fellow of the ACAAI, and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. A recent survey by Meltzer and others found that people with allergic rhinitis are two to three times more likely to report sleep disturbances than the general public.

Increasingly, medical experts recognize that disturbed sleep leads to serious consequences, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Recognizing this, ACAAI sponsored a plenary session today devoted entirely to disturbed sleep syndromes.

Dr. Stanley Fineman, ACAAI President, remarked that “allergic rhinitis is often regarded as unimportant, rather than a serious medical condition that can impact a person’s sleep, day-to-day activities and overall quality of life.” 

To encourage dialogue between doctors and patients about nasal allergies, the ACAAI announced their support of a new campaign, "Allergy Intervention," developed by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals. More information about the campaign can be found here.

Read about the hospitalizations study by Hankin here and the publication of the Meltzer study here.