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Medication management for hay fever is suboptimal

Published online: March 29, 2018

Rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a chronic and prevalent collection of disorders of the upper airways. It is often trivialized by patients despite its high burden to individuals and society. Patients frequently self-select over-the-counter medications for their rhinitis symptoms from community pharmacies, without seeking professional advice. In a study recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Tan and colleagues observed the way in which people with rhinitis medicate their condition and evaluated the appropriateness of this medication management.

Pharmacy customers who purchased medication for nasal symptoms were invited to participate in this study. Data relating to the participants’ diagnosis, symptoms, hay fever history, and treatment selection was collected. The treatment selected was evaluated for appropriateness by an expert panel of specialist clinical experts, i.e., a respiratory physician and clinical pharmacists, based on the Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) international guidelines.

Two hundred and ninety-six participants were recruited from eight pharmacies. Seventy percent of participants had hay fever; just over 60% of whom had been given a diagnosis by a doctor. Of those participants with hay fever 70% self-selected their medications without speaking to the pharmacist and in total, 17% of participants with hay fever selected appropriate medication(s). Of those participants who had both hay fever and wheeze, only 6% selected appropriate medication(s).

The majority of the people with hay fever chose to select their hay fever medications independently, with over 80% of them selecting suboptimal medication. This research highlights the heavy burden and significant opportunity to improve the management of hay fever through greater involvement of the community pharmacist who is currently under-utilized in this role, as well as other medical professionals.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.