Obesity and rhinitis: Is there a connection?


Published Online: February 17, 2016

Obesity has been strongly linked to asthma and complications from asthma. Although children and adults with asthma often suffer from rhinitis, it is unclear whether obesity predisposes patients to rhinitis.   

In a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Han and colleagues conducted an analysis of obesity and rhinitis, using data from 2,358 children and 4,906 adults who participated in the 2005-2006 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Body mass index (BMI) was used to define overweight or obesity, and waist circumference (WC) was used to define central obesity.  Rhinitis was considered present if a participant had nasal symptoms and a doctor had diagnosed hay fever or allergy. Rhinitis was then divided into two types: 1) allergic, if a blood test confirmed common allergies, and 2) non-allergic, if a blood test was negative for common allergies.
The researchers found that adults who are overweight or obese are more likely to have non-allergic rhinitis than adults of normal weight, particularly among men. Similarly, adults with central obesity were more likely to have non-allergic rhinitis than those of normal weight. In contrast, there was no relation between overweight or obesity and allergic rhinitis in adults. Among children, those with central obesity were less likely to have allergic rhinitis than their normal weight counterparts.
Findings from this study suggest that overweight or obesity increases the risk of non-allergic rhinitis in adults, especially in males. To avoid an erroneous diagnosis of allergic rhinitis, testing for allergies (e.g. using allergy skin testing or a blood test) should be considered in obese adults with chronic nasal symptoms.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.
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