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Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis: Effect on Occupation Productivity and Work Force Costs

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Allergic rhinitis, one of the most common chronic illnesses, can have a negative impact on occupational productivity in the work-place. Allergic rhinitis affects over 13 million workers (6.15 million men and 6.11 million women) of the United States workforce. Work place productivity can be reduced in the several ways: (1) Employee works at suboptimal efficiency because of the disease or its treatment; (2) employee takes a sick day away from work because of allergic rhinitis or its complications; (3) employee takes time off from work to care for or transport a child or dependent who needs care for allergic rhinitis or its complications, and (4) worker takes time off because of a work-related injury related to the disease or the medication used to treat the illness. Although nonsedating antihistamines and intranasal anti-inflammatory medications have been developed as effective therapies and are available as prescription drugs, many workers (50%) indicate that they manage their allergic rhinitis with over-the-counter medications. Most of these over-the-counter medicines contain sedating antihistamines which are known to alter cognitive and motor function. To determine whether the medications used by 3394 members of a health maintenance organization were associated with incident work-related injury, they were compared to two control groups selected from the membership and matched for age, gender, and Standard Industrial Classification Code of their employer. Medication use was determined from pharmacy data. The injuries included 496 fractures on dislocations, 2728 open, crushing, or superficial injuries, 176 burns, and 63 internal injuries. The risk of injury was statistically significalltly elevated among users of sedating antihistamines. Utilizing demographic data the annual cost of lost productivity to employers and society as the result of allergic rhinitis and its therapy with the over-the-counter sedating antihistamines is estimated to be greater than $4 billion.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1997-03-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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