Allergic rhinitis (AR) is the most common allergic disorder and its prevalence has significantly increased worldwide, nowadays affecting up to 40% of the population in young adults.
This cross-sectional population-based study was conducted at an annual public fair in Belgium and included 2,300 people (median age 45 years). Participants underwent a skin prick test (SPT) to 3 aeroallergens:
- a mix of trees (hazel, alder, and birch)
- grass pollen
- house dust mite (HDM)
The clinical relevance of sensitization was assessed by relating relevant symptoms of AR to the corresponding SPT.
The prevalence rates of sensitization were:
- 13% for tree mix
- 26% for grass pollen
- 26% for HDM
Sensitization to at least one of the allergens was present in 40% of the subjects.
Symptomatic sensitization related to each allergen was reported as follows:
- tree-related in 9.7% of cases
- grass-related AR in 17%
- HDM-related AR in 17%
The overall prevalence of AR was 31.
This study demonstrated a 40% prevalence of a positive SPT to one or more common aeroallergens. A clinical diagnosis of AR was present in 31% of cases, peaking in the third and fourth decades of life.
Prevalence of Allergic Sensitization versus Allergic Rhinitis Symptoms in an Unselected Population. Blomme K, Tomassen P, Lapeere H, Huvenne W, Bonny M, Acke F, Bachert C, Gevaert P. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2012 Sep 25;160(2):200-207. [Epub ahead of print]