KARACHI: Some 24.62 percent Pakistanis are affected by allergic rhinitis, with Sindh having highest prevalence of around 28%, health experts recently revealed.
“We should come together to increase the level of awareness about allergic rhinitis and address this issue on all forums. It is a public health problem and disease burden may increase by many times if not controlled at the start of the season,” the experts said.
Dr Umar Farooq, the Head of ENT Department at Dow University of Health Sciences said that allergic rhinitis or hay fever started when one breathed in something to which one is allergic. “The inside of the nose becomes inflamed and swollen. Allergic rhinitis is clinically defined as a symptomatic disorder of the nose and is characterized by nasal symptoms including rhinorrhoea (runny nose), sneezing and nasal blockage and/or itching of the nose. It is often associated with ocular symptoms,” he said.
“It is triggered by allergens and allergens can be found both outdoors and indoors. When allergic rhinitis is caused by outdoor allergens, eg, mould or trees, grass and weed pollens – it is often referred to as seasonal allergies, or ‘hay fever. Allergic rhinitis may also be triggered by allergens found in the home, such as animal dander, indoor mould, or house dust mites. The goal of treatment of allergic rhinitis (AR) is to improve a patient’s well-being, or quality of life,” he said. “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.
While highlighting the burden, Dr Salman Matiullah, Head of ENT Department at Jinnah Medical and Dental College said that allergic rhinitis reduced learning ability in children. “Around 88% of pediatric AR patients have sleep disorders. The presence of AR often precedes the development of asthma,” he added.
“Allergic rhinitis can lead to Asthma. Many medical interventions, including nonsedating antihistamines, intranasal corticosteroids, and immunotherapy are approved for use in adults and children,” he said.
Prevalence of allergic rhinitis across the country is the real health issue of our society. “We cannot undermine its consequences on the patient social live, educational performance and work productivity. It also affects quality of life, including psychological well-being and the ability to learn and process cognitive input,” he added.