islamabad - As allergy season starts, health experts have advised precautionary measures against the most common allergy in Pakistan, allergic rhinitis or hay fever, which is affecting 24.62% Pakistanis.

Dr Jawwad Ahmed, Associate Surgeon ENT at Capital Hospital said that the presence of AR often precedes the development of asthma. He added 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. Allergic rhinitis is clinically defined as a symptomatic disorder of the nose and is characterised 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 its impact on patients’ social life, school performance, and work productivity. The symptoms of AR 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,” he added.

He added that mixed cases of rhinitis and asthma (24.86%) and allergic rhinitis alone (24.01%) are the major allergic disorders in the province of Punjab. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he added, the mixed cases of rhinitis and asthma (21.89%) and bronchial asthma alone (26.69%) were the first and second most common allergic diseases. Allergic rhinitis was on top (27.92%) in Sindh province, said Jawwad.

Dr Safdar Nawaz, Associate Professor at Social Security Hospital, while highlighting the burden, said that allergic rhinitis reduces learning ability in children. Eighty-eight per cent of paediatric AR patients have sleep disorders. He said that allergic rhinitis is triggered by allergens and allergens can be found both outdoors and indoors. “When allergic rhinitis is caused by outdoor allergens e.g. trees, grass and weed pollens, it is often referred to as seasonal allergies, or “hay fever,” said Amjad. Allergic rhinitis may also be triggered by allergens found in the home, such as animal dander, indoor mould, or house dust mites, said Amjad. He said that the goal of treatment of allergic rhinitis (AR) is to improve a patient’s well-being, or quality of life,’ he added.

“Many medical interventions, including non-sedating antihistamines, intranasal corticosteroids, and immunotherapy are approved for use in adults and children,” 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,” he added.