Research scientists recently predicted that half of all Europeans may be suffering from some sort of allergy by 2015 if the escalating epidemic remains unchecked . With allergies becoming an increasing global problem - 15 million people in the UK are currently affected by airborne allergies alone and numbers are increasing - more and more of our lives are affected. Furthermore, allergic rhinitis, the condition caused by airborne allergies , has now been classified as a ‘major chronic respiratory disease’, due to its high prevalence and effect on quality of life .
Because of these concerns, increasing emphasis is being placed on education and implementation of evidence-based management for the condition, with groups such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative; ARIA (Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma) and IPAG (International Primary Airways Group), collating detailed research and providing guidance to a range of healthcare professionals to manage the problem.
ARIA’s guide for pharmacists reinforces the importance of diagnosing severity of airborne allergy sufferers. It recommends intranasal corticosteroids (INCS) used as a spray are currently the most effective class of treatment for allergic rhinitis. ARIA also recommends INCS as the most appropriate first line treatment if nasal congestion is present or if symptoms are frequent or persistent , for example, for those who suffer mild symptoms throughout the summer or those who suffer occasionally with moderate to severe symptoms.
Unlike antihistamines, INCS are effective at relieving the long-lasting, persistent symptoms caused by nasal congestion and pressure, which are due to the late phase allergic reaction in an allergic rhinitis sufferer (see notes for early and late phase symptoms).
David Price, Professor of Primary Care Respiratory Medicine at University of Aberdeen and one of the pioneers of the ARIA initiative commented; ‘With INCS available in the pharmacy, sufferers have the most effective form of treatment for their condition available when they need it most.’
Allergic rhinitis can significantly reduce quality of life, impairing sleep and adversely affecting leisure, social life and work productivity . INCS have been shown to improve quality of life, improve performance at work and reduce the nasal congestion related sleep problems that can occur .
Samantha Hammond, a life long sufferer of allergic rhinitis, said “It is great to hear that accessibility to the latest treatments for airborne allergies is becoming easier. My allergies have a significant impact on my life and I will always embrace new ways to help manage them.”
Notes to editors
What is an airborne allergy?
Allergic rhinitis is caused when people suffer from airborne allergies. Airborne allergy sufferers’ bodies react inappropriately to certain substances in the air that are harmless to others. These substances called allergens, include pollen (hayfever), pet dander, dust mites and moulds.
What are early and late phase symptoms?
Exposure to an allergen for an airborne allergy sufferer starts an early phase allergic response within the body. In this early phase allergic response, cells within the body are triggered to release histamine, which locks onto receptors on the walls of nerve and blood vessels and causes early phase allergic symptoms. These early phase symptoms include sneezing, and itchy and runny eyes and nose.
However, in some airborne allergy sufferers the allergic response does not end here, as a late phase response can also occur. During this allergic response phase additional chemicals, known as leukotrienes and prostaglandins, are released into the body as well as histamine. This response causes late phase symptoms of nasal congestion, swelling and sinus discomfort and pressure, as well as grogginess.
What is ‘Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma’ (ARIA)?
ARIA is a non-governmental organization (NGO) working in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The purpose and mission of ARIA, the World Health initiative on allergic rhinitis, is to educate and implement evidence-based management of allergic rhinitis in conjunction with asthma worldwide.
For further information please contact:
Joanna O’Donovan or Louise Collins
Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster
Tel: 020 7022 4000
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
ii ARIA in the Pharmacy. Final draft 2002 – http://www.whiar.com/ - p4
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