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Allergy Asthma Proc. 2000 Jan-Feb;21(1):7-13.

Cognitive, social, and economic costs of allergic rhinitis.

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University of Tennessee, Memphis, USA.


Allergic rhinitis is a highly prevalent, chronic condition. In addition to physical discomfort, rhinitis symptoms have been associated with detrimental effects on the psychological and social aspects of patients' lives. In allergy-specific questionnaires, subjects with allergic rhinitis consistently report lower quality of life than nonallergic controls. Untreated patients are embarrassed and frustrated by their allergy symptoms. Atopic individuals consistently exhibit significant declines in cognitive processing, psychomotor speed, verbal learning, and memory during allergy season. The discomfort, cognitive impairment, and absenteeism associated with allergic rhinitis exact a significant economic toll on U.S. businesses through decreased productivity. When combined with direct medical expenditures, the economic burden of allergic rhinitis is considerable. The effect of treatment on the economics of allergic rhinitis is highly variable: relatively inexpensive medications (lower direct costs) have central nervous system side effects that can cause somnolence and impair learning, memory, and performance (higher indirect costs). Health outcomes data on the effects of allergic rhinitis and its treatments can help establish, monitor, and improve standards of care; as well as inform priority setting, direct resource allocation, and eliminate unnecessary practices.

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