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Targeting congestion in allergic rhinitis: The importance of intranasal corticosteroids

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The cardinal nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis (AR) are sustained by an underlying inflammatory process. Congestion is one of the most prominent and distressing symptoms for patients and is strongly associated with a broadly deteriorated quality of life and significant losses in productivity. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of intranasal corticosteroids (INSs) in down-regulating the inflammatory response to allergen and their clinical efficacy on AR symptoms, particularly congestion. AR is characterized by an influx of inflammatory cells and mediators into the nasal mucosa after antigen exposure. The response is biphasic, encompassing an early and a late phase. Antigen exposure has a priming effect, decreasing the threshold for subsequent allergic reaction on rechallenge and increasing the responsiveness of the nasal mucosa. INSs are a mainstay of therapy for AR and the most effective intervention for nasal congestion and other nasal symptoms, with established superiority to antihistamines, decongestants, and leukotriene antagonists. In addition to symptom relief, INSs suppress numerous stages of the inflammatory cascade, inhibiting the influx of inflammatory cells and mediators. Topical nasal corticosteroids have a low incidence of local adverse effects, negligible systemic absorption, and excellent safety. Congestion is one of the most bothersome symptoms of AR. INS therapy improves AR symptoms, with particular efficacy in relieving congestion, by attenuating nasal hyperresponsiveness. Pretreatment with INSs has been shown to relieve early and late-phase clinical symptoms of AR. Modification of the disease process results in significant relief of symptoms and leads to fewer disease exacerbations.

Keywords: Airway reactivity; allergic rhinitis; biphasic allergic response; congestion; hyperreactivity; inflammation; intranasal corticosteroids; nasal symptoms; priming; topical steroids

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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  • 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 and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    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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