The concept of “united airways disease”, based on many similar features and mutual interactions in the pathogenesis of asthma (A) and rhinitis (R), has led to an integral approach to their management. We conducted this study to determine the quantity of the problem of joint incidence of A and R in R. Macedonia, and, perhaps to obtain information on a potential causative effect of the two diseases.

Three hundred eighty six patients, who presented with wheezing and/or upper respiratory symptoms at the Pulmology and Allergy Clinic, Skopje, were included during a period of 48 months. The presence of bronchial hyperreactivity – BHR (positive histamine challenge), atopy (prick test to seasonal or perennial inhaled allergens), rhinitis symptoms (such as nasal secretion and obstruction) and X-ray of paranasal sinuses was registered by a specially designed questionnaire. R was diagnosed in 106 of the subjects (27.5%), and A in 280 (72.5%). Among the patients with A, co-incidence with R was found in 219 (76.5%). Including X-ray of paranasal sinuses to the diagnostic protocol increased this percentage to over 90% (256 patients). From the 219 patients with A and R together, 127 (57.99%) had positive atopy. On the other hand, 19 (18.0%) of the rhinitis-only patients had positive BHR without asthma symptoms. The follow up of the rhinitis patients with positive BHR revealed 4 patiets who developed asthma within 36 months, but this was also the case with 2 of the subjects with R and negative BHR. In conclusion, the co-incidence of A and R in our material is 78.21%, or 91.4% (including sinusitis); a greater co-existence of A and R is found in atopic patients. The patients with allergic R are at high risk for developing A and should be monitored in the future and the R symptoms should be adequately treated in order to minimize the risk for developing asthma.

Keywords: Asthma, rhinitis, epidemiology, united airways, joint incidence.
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