What is the mortality and morbidities of allergic rhinitis (hay fever)?

Updated: May 18, 2018
  • Author: Javed Sheikh, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Answer

While allergic rhinitis itself is not life-threatening (unless accompanied by severe asthma or anaphylaxis), morbidity from the condition can be significant. Allergic rhinitis often coexists with other disorders, such as asthma, and may be associated with asthma exacerbations. [24, 25, 26]

Allergic rhinitis is also associated with otitis media, eustachian tube dysfunction, sinusitis, nasal polyps, allergic conjunctivitis, and atopic dermatitis. [2, 1, 27] It may also contribute to learning difficulties, sleep disorders, and fatigue. [28, 29, 30]

  • Numerous complications that can lead to increased morbidity or even mortality can occur secondary to allergic rhinitis. Possible complications include otitis media, eustachian tube dysfunction, acute sinusitis, and chronic sinusitis.

  • Allergic rhinitis can be associated with a number of comorbid conditions, including asthma, atopic dermatitis, and nasal polyps. Evidence now suggests that uncontrolled allergic rhinitis can actually worsen the inflammation associated with asthma [24, 25, 26] or atopic dermatitis. [27] This could lead to further morbidity and even mortality.

  • Allergic rhinitis can frequently lead to significant impairment of quality of life. Symptoms such as fatigue, drowsiness (due to the disease or to medications), and malaise can lead to impaired work and school performance, missed school or work days, and traffic accidents. Cost of allergic rhinitis have increased substantially in the United States. In 1996, the overall cost (direct and indirect) of allergic rhinitis was estimated to be $5.3 billion per year. [5]  In 2002, total costs including indirect costs were estimated at $11.58 billion. [14]


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