Almost all Australians with moderate-to-severe allergic rhinitis are experiencing disrupted sleep and its impact on health and wellbeing

Mylan Health has released the results of its YouGov Galaxy research in which it highlights an expanded role for pharmacists, given so many allergy sufferers simply self-select relief products.

The research found that 93% of people with moderate-to-severe symptoms are having trouble sleeping – and 49% feel exhausted all the time.

But 43% keep taking treatments which provide only slight or no reduction in their symptoms. Only 7% believe their treatment provides total relief.

Of the moderate-to-severe sufferers, 70% used OTC antihistamines, 24% take cold and flu medications and 8% are on prescription combination treatments.

Professor Richard Harvey, Rhinologist at Macquarie University and St Vincent’s Hospital, and Australian and New Zealand Rhinologic Society Secretary, said failure to treat allergic rhinitis can have more serious health consequences, including increasing the risk of asthma.

“This new consumer research suggests we may be underestimating the impact allergic rhinitis is having on patients, in terms of daily activities, work or school productivity, and quality of life,” he said.

“Pharmacists are uniquely placed to play an important role in breaking the cycle of inadequate self-management by proactively engaging customers with allergic rhinitis in a conversation about their symptoms and experience with treatment.”

More than half (56%) of those surveyed are used to their allergic rhinitis symptoms and manage as best they can, with an additional 18% reporting they are resigned to the fact they will always suffer.

The research also found that pharmacy was the most common source of advice or information on allergic rhinitis, with 34% seeing pharmacy as their top choice: 25% selected pharmacists as their key point of contact, and 9% selected pharmacy assistants. GPs were next, at 32%.

Professor Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich, Team Leader of the Quality Use of Respiratory Medicines Group at the Woolcock Institute, University of Sydney, said the findings are worrisome.

“For patients, they are living with allergic rhinitis, desperate for relief, yet have given up on finding solutions.

“From a pharmacist’s perspective it is important to realise that patients do not necessarily ask for assistance, even though they need it.

“Pharmacists are trained to provide people with allergic rhinitis with the latest evidence-based advice and support with the aim of decreasing the burden of this chronic condition on people’s lives.

“Pharmacists can help monitor treatment efficacy, suggest appropriate adjustments to therapy and refer the individual to the GP when required.” she added.

The research also found that:

  • More than one third (37%) of people with moderate-to-severe allergic rhinitis reported having taken up to nine days off work in the past year.
  • Almost one third (32%) reported being less productive.
  • Almost three quarters (74%) experienced symptoms at various times throughout the year.
  • One in five (19%) respondents state symptoms of moderate-to-severe allergic rhinitis flare up their asthma.
  • One in five (21%) say school or work is affected.
  • Social activities are also challenging with 13% avoiding socialising.
  • Among those in a relationship, over half (53%) of respondents say that their relationship with their partner is impacted by the symptoms of moderate-to-severe allergic rhinitis.