Background: Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a common disease that affects approximately one-fifth of the U.S. population. Few studies have evaluated the association between secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) exposure and the impacts on symptom severity in AR. In this study, we evaluated the association of SHS and AR in a community-based study of adult nonsmokers. Methods: In Washington County, Maryland, 83 subjects with AR (physician diagnosed or reported skin test positive), and 117 nonallergic subjects from the same community were recruited and interviewed. A validated questionnaire was used to assess past and present SHS exposure as well as disease-specific quality of life. Results: SHS was reported in 34/83 allergic subjects. Compared with AR subjects with no SHS exposure, subjects with AR and SHS were more likely to report a family history of chronic sinusitis (p = 0.04) and use nasal decongestants (p = 0.012). There was also a borderline association with reporting more severe nasal obstruction (p = 0.14) and nasal drainage (p = 0.08). Compared with nonallergic subjects, allergic subjects were more likely to report longer SHS exposure currently (adjusted mean difference = 1.6 hours/week; p = 0.01) and 20 years ago (adjusted mean difference = 2.9 hours/week; p = 0.03). Conclusion: Past and current SHS may be a risk factor for AR. Allergic subjects with SHS exposure were more likely to use nasal decongestants and to report more severe nasal symptoms such as nasal obstruction and nasal drainage than nonexposed allergic subjects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy