Objective To investigate recent trends in the recorded incidence, lifetime prevalence and prescribing of symptom relief medication for allergic rhinitis in England.
Design Analysis of primary healthcare datasets.
Setting The UK prevalence of allergic rhinitis has increased very significantly over recent decades. Analysis of primary healthcare datasets offers the possibility to advance understanding about the changing epidemiology and management of allergic rhinitis. QRESEARCH is one of the world's largest national aggregated health databases containing the records of over nine million patients. We extracted data on all patients with a recorded diagnosis of allergic rhinitis and calculated annual age-sex standardized incidence and lifetime period prevalence rates for each year from 2001-2005. We also analysed prescribing trends for antihistamines and drugs used in nasal allergy in those with a recorded diagnosis of allergic rhinitis.
Main outcome measures Age-sex standardized incidence, lifetime prevalence rates and prescribing trends for symptom relief medication for allergic rhinitis in England.
Results The age-sex standardized incidence of allergic rhinitis was 5.57 per 1000 person-years in 2001 and increased by 33.0% to 7.41 per 1000 person-years in 2005 (P<0.001). Lifetime age-sex standardized prevalence of a recorded diagnosis of allergic rhinitis increased by 43.2% from 46.35 per 1000 in 2001 to 66.37 per 1000 in 2005 (P<0.001). Over this period a 41.7% overall increase in prescriptions for antihistamines and drugs used in nasal allergy was observed (antihistamines 45.5%, drugs used in nasal allergies 35.5%).
Conclusions Recorded incidence and lifetime prevalence of allergic rhinitis have increased substantially in recent years. A similar increase in prescriptions for antihistamines and drugs used in nasal allergy in patients with allergic rhinitis is also observed.