LAHORE - Health experts have advised necessary precautionary measures to avoid allergic rhinitis, the most common allergic disease in Pakistan with 24.62 per cent prevalence.

Briefing the media as part of Allergic Rhinitis Awareness Drive at a local hotel yesterday, Prof Mohammad Amjad, Head of ENT Department at Services Hospital, said that ‘allergic rhinitis or hay fever, happens when one breathes in something to which one is allergic, and the inside of the nose becomes inflamed and swollen’. Dr Javed Iqbal, consultant at Services Hospital, was also present.

Allergic rhinitis is clinically defined as a symptomatic disorder of the nose and is characterized by nasal symptoms including rhinorrhoea (runny nose), sneezing, nasal blockage and or itching of the nose. It is often associated with ocular symptoms.

“Allergic rhinitis is an important health problem because of its prevalence and impact on patients’ social life, school performance, and work productivity. The symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis are not limited to the physical effects on the nose and eyes but also involve adverse consequences to quality of life, including psychological well-being and the ability to learn and process cognitive input,” Prof Mohammad Amjad.

“Allergic Rhinitis reduces learning ability in children. 88 per cent of pediatric Allergic Rhinitis patients have sleep disorders. The presence of the disease often precedes the development of asthma, mixed cases of rhinitis and asthma (24.86 per cent) and allergic rhinitis alone (24.01 per cent) are major allergic disorders in Punjab’, he said.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he added, the mixed cases of rhinitis and asthma (21.89 per cent) and bronchial asthma alone (26.69 per cent) were the first and second most common allergic diseases. Allergic rhinitis was on top (27.92 per cent) in Sindh, said Amjad.

To a question, he said allergens could be found both outdoors and indoors.

‘When allergic rhinitis is caused by outdoor allergens, e.g., mould or trees, grass and weed pollens — it is often referred to as seasonal allergies, or hay fever,’ he said.

Allergic rhinitis may also be triggered by allergens found at home, such as animal dander, indoor mould, or house dust mites, said Amjad, adding, the enhanced pollution due to ongoing construction activity in Lahore has increased prevalence of Allergic rhinitis by 10-20 per cent.

“Many medical interventions, including nonsedating antihistamines, intranasal corticosteroids, and immunotherapy are approved for use in adults and children,’ he added.  ARIA recommends intranasal glucocorticosteroids for treatment of AR in adults, while ARIA suggests intranasal corticosteroids in children with AR,” he added.

“Allergic rhinitis represents a global health problem. Allergic Rhinitis in adults and children has been shown to lead to substantial impairment of quality of life (QOL),” he added.