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Supporting people to self-manage their allergic rhinitis

02 July 2021
Volume 32 · Issue 7


Allergic rhinitis is common in the UK and can cause significant symptoms and reductions in quality of life. Viv Marsh considers how health professionals can support self-management of these patients

Many of us look forward to the spring and summer months with warmer weather, longer days and more opportunity to spend time outdoors. But for hay fever sufferers these months can be truly miserable. For others, the winter months can be equally challenging as, with more time spent indoors, exposure to indoor allergens is greater. Hay fever is the term commonly used to describe seasonal nasal allergy triggered by pollen. It affects many children and adults in the UK, causing significant symptoms and reduction in quality of life. Often, people with allergic rhinitis try to manage the condition themselves using home or over-the-counter remedies to reduce and control symptoms. However, effective management may not be straightforward and guidance from knowledgeable and experienced health professionals can lead to improved outcomes. Taking an evidence-based approach, this article will explore the impact of allergic rhinitis on those who experience it, and will consider how health professionals can support self-management to enable people with the condition to manage their symptoms and minimise its impact on their lives.

Rhinitis is a condition where inflammation of the nasal mucosa leads to a set of characteristic symptoms (see Table 1) that may vary in timing and severity. When a patient has ocular in addition to nasal symptoms the condition is called rhino-conjunctivitis. Around 10-15% of children and 26% of adults in the UK experience rhinitis, and rhinitis is strongly associated with asthma (Scadding et al, 2017). Rhinitis can be allergic or non-allergic, with the allergic form being more common at an estimated ratio of 3:1 (Scadding et al, 2017). Allergic rhinitis can be troublesome all year round (perennial allergic rhinitis) or at certain times of the year depending on the causative allergen (seasonal allergic rhinitis – hay fever). People can suffer with one or both forms of allergic rhinitis meaning that they could experience symptoms virtually all year round. Allergic rhinitis is classified according to symptom frequency and severity, ranging from mild to severe and intermittent to persistent (Scadding et al, 2017).

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