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Allergic rhinitis diagnosis and treatment: new guidelines for primary care professionals

24.07.2008
Two complementary guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis are published in the August issue of the Allergy journal.

These guidelines are the result of a close cooperation between scientists, primary care professionals, and patients’ organisations. GA²LEN, Global Allergy and Asthma European Network contributed to the guidelines representing European research in the field.

Allergic rhinitis is one of the most common chronic diseases with over 600 million people affected worldwide. More than 200 million of them also suffer from concomitant asthma. However, allergic rhinitis is generally under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Prof. Jean Bousquet, GA²LEN Vice-President and Chairman of ARIA, Allergic Rhinitis and Its Impact on Asthma, stresses that “neither allergic nor non-allergic rhinitis are trivial disorders. They significantly impair patients’ daily quality of life, school and work performance. Moreover, people with allergic rhinitis have a greater risk to develop asthma and many patients with rhinitis already have asthma as well. Although patients come with a complaint about their nose, asthma too must be checked by the doctor.”

Dr. Chris van Weel, from WONCA, adds “The majority of patients who seek medical advice are seen in primary care practices. General practitioners therefore have a central role to play in the adequate diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis. These two short publications intend to support primary care physicians in their diagnostic and facilitate doctors’ assessment of the disease and medication choices.” In the accompanying editorial, he expends on the central role of primary care in the diagnosis, treatment and management of allergic rhinitis.

The guidelines review best practices worldwide, based on current state-of-the-art research. They propose practical questionnaires for history taking, which is at the core of diagnosis, including advice on how to differentiate allergic rhinitis from other common diseases such as the common cold and non-allergic rhinitis.

Classifications will allow doctors to assess the severity of the disease and the impact on the patients’ quality of life. Primary care professionals will also find a list of ‘red flags’ suggesting that urgent referral is need and a glossary of rhinitis medications.

These guidelines complement GA²LEN’s campaign ‘Does rhinitis lead to asthma?’, launched in 2007.

Julie Seifert | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ga2len.net

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