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Symptom control in patients with hay fever in UK general practice: how well are we doing and is there a need for allergen immunotherapy?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 14:50 authored by P White, H Smith, N Baker, W Davies, A Frew
Background: Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often regarded as a trivial condition which patients should treat themselves. However, a significant proportion of sufferers are not fully controlled on standard hay fever medication, either because they do not use it properly or because their symptoms are resistant to standard therapy. The latter group may be suitable for allergen immunotherapy, which was once widely available in UK general practice but is now only available through specialist centres. Aims: To describe the symptom control of patients with hay fever, to assess concordance with prescribed medication, and to estimate the number of patients who may benefit from referral for allergen immunotherapy. Setting: General practices in Hampshire and Dorset, UK. Method: Survey of adult hay fever sufferers prescribed a non-sedating antihistamine and nasal steroid spray by their general practitioner. A postal questionnaire was sent to all eligible patients aged 16–64 registered with 16 general practices. Self-assessment of symptom control and reported compliance with medication were used to identify those patients who were suboptimally controlled and might therefore benefit from immunotherapy. Results: Eight hundred and forty-six out of 62 500 registered patients aged 16–64 (1.4%) were receiving both drugs, and responses were received from 627 (74.1%); 526 of these met the full entry criteria. One hundred and forty-two patients (27.0%) were using both types of drug regularly. Of the 142 patients using optimum pharmacotherapy, 54 (38.0%) reported good control of their hay fever symptoms. The remaining 62.0% experienced troublesome residual symptoms and described symptom control as partial or poor. Among those using suboptimal pharmacotherapy, 181/376 (48.1%) reported good control. Conclusion: Many patients are using treatment inappropriately. Current guidelines need to be applied better but there is also a significant burden of residual symptoms, even among those receiving current optimal therapy. This indicates a need for patients with severe summer hay fever to receive specialist assessment.


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Clinical & Experimental Allergy









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