Feature Article

Rhinitis and asthma: it’s one airway after all

Lakmali Amarasiri, Jo Douglass

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Abstract

The concept of ‘united airways disease – that allergic asthma and rhinitis are manifestations of a single inflammatory airways disease – is supported by laboratory and epidemiological studies and by treatment responses.

Key Points

  • Asthma and allergic rhinitis are described as two different presentations of a common disease process. Understanding the relation between them will greatly influence the care of patients suffering from either condition.
  • The term ‘united airways disease’ has been proposed to describe the airway problems in patients with significant allergic respiratory disease.
  • About 80% of patients with asthma also have rhinitis. There is evidence that treatment of rhinitis in asthma by inhaled corticosteroids reduces asthma exacerbation rates.
  • Specific allergen immunotherapy delivered by either the subcutaneous route or the sublingual route has been shown to reduce the subsequent development of asthma in children with allergic rhinitis.

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