Air Pollution Exposure Linked to Increased Severity of Rhinitis

Rhinitis is a very frequent disease affecting between 20 percent and 50 percent of the global population depending on the countries and definitions used. Often considered as a trivial disease, rhinitis does actually have an important impact on quality of life; however, very little is known about air pollution as risk factor for rhinitis and its severity in adults.

In an original article published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), Burte and colleagues hypothesized that air pollution exposure may be associated with an increase in severity of rhinitis.

They used data collected on more than 1400 adults from two European multicenter studies, with extensive information on respiratory diseases. The researchers used annual averaged exposure at participant's home addresses to several air pollutants related to traffic (nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM) of different diameters: from =2.5 µm (PM2.5) to =10 µm (PM10)) to assess long-term exposure to air pollution.

More Severe Nasal Symptoms

Self-reported disturbance due to symptoms of rhinitis (sneezing, blocked nose, itchy nose, runny nose) was used to define rhinitis severity.

The researchers analyzed the association between exposure to each air pollutant and severity of rhinitis. They found that an increase in PM10 and PM2.5 exposure was associated with an increased severity of rhinitis.

To a lesser extent, NO2 exposure was also associated with severity of rhinitis. This study showed that people with rhinitis who live in areas with higher levels of air pollution are more likely to report more severe nasal symptoms - further work is required to elucidate the mechanisms of this association.

These results bring new insights into the management of rhinitis, a hidden major public health challenge, associated with substantial daily impairment and high cost to society.

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