Medscape: Hay fever puts heavy disease burden on adolescents

Hay Fever Puts Heavy Disease Burden on Adolescents

By Rita Buckley

June 07, 2018

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Hay fever, with or without eye allergies, has a significant impact on quality of life in adolescents and may limit daily activities and functioning, a new literature review suggests.

"Adolescents aren't 'big children' or 'small adults.' They have very specific needs, and allergists can help relieve symptoms that cause suffering," lead author Dr. Michael Blaiss from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University said in a statement.

Dr. Blaiss and colleagues searched English-language journal articles from 2002 to 2017 for non-interventional, population-based studies on the burden of allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in adolescents ages 10 to 19.

As reported in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, online April 4, they identified 27 studies examining the effects of hay fever and hay fever with eye allergies in adolescents. The studies were mainly cross-sectional and involved administration of study-specific questionnaires, validated International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaires (or modified ISAAC questionnaires), and validated QOL instruments.

The most bothersome allergic rhinitis symptoms were rhinorrhea, nasal congestion and itchy eyes, researchers found. QOL was worse in adolescents with the condition versus controls, regardless of which QOL instrument was used.

Nasal symptoms were more often associated with poor QOL in adolescents than in adults or younger children. Likewise, nasal obstruction had a bigger impact on QOL in adolescents than in younger children.

Allergic rhinitis also had a negative impact on daily functioning and sleep, and a detrimental effect on school attendance, productivity and academic performance.

"These findings should raise awareness and acuity on the effects that allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis can have on adolescent patients for whom the symptoms may generally be considered trivial or inconsequential," Dr. Sigrid Payne DaVeiga, co-director of the Pulmonary Allergy Problematic Asthma Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Reuters Health by email.

"These conditions can have a substantial impact on well-being, school performance, and quality of life for adolescent patients," said Dr. Payne DaVeiga, who was not involved in the study.

She noted the congruity of findings from across the world and said that the data on a high emotional burden was "particularly noteworthy."

Dr. Blaiss agreed. "Most studies put adolescents in with children, yet we know that how disease affects them may be dramatically different. Adolescence is a difficult time even without a chronic condition," he told Reuters Health by email.

For adolescents, allergic rhinitis is "not just a nuisance," he said. "It can lead to sleep disturbances and affect school performance and academic achievement."

Dr. Blaiss stressed the importance of taking these effects into account when treating the condition. "We need to understand how allergic rhinitis can affect sleep and school performance," he said, "and make sure to use disease-modifying agents that are not impairing, such as allergen immunotherapy."

He recommends that health care providers aggressively treat adolescents with allergic rhinitis "to get the best outcomes and improve their quality of life."

Hørsholm, Denmark-based ALK-Abelló, which makes allergy medicines, funded the study. Two authors are ALK employees, and Dr. Blaiss reports financial ties to the company.


Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2018.

Reuters Health Information © 2018 

Cite this article: Hay Fever Puts Heavy Disease Burden on Adolescents - Medscape - Jun 06, 2018.