Allergic rhinitis by the numbers

Unlike many health conditions, allergic rhinitis is most common in the middle years of life (15–59 years), rather than in children or older Australians. Allergic rhinitis was the most prevalent in persons aged 15–59 years.  

Prevalence of allergic rhinitis by age-group (per cent)

ACT had the highest rate of allergic rhinitis in Australia (26%) in 2014–15. The second highest rate was in Tasmania (23%). The lowest rates were in NT (12%) and Qld (17%).

Prevalence of allergic rhinitis by state (per cent)​

Source: AIHW analysis of ABS National Health Survey, 2014–15 (TableBuilder) (Data tables).

Treatment of allergic rhinitis

There are a range of treatments available for allergic rhinitis, many of which do not require a prescription from a doctor. The main medicines used are intranasal corticosteroids (nasal sprays) and oral antihistamines. For persistent allergic rhinitis and for moderate/severe intermittent allergic rhinitis, guidelines recommend the use of nasal sprays as the first-line therapy. For mild intermittent hay fever, the use of antihistamines is recommended.

Comprehensive data are not available on the use of allergic rhinitis medicines. Data from pharmacy suppliers, however, suggest that spending by pharmacies on these medicines doubled between 2001 and 2010, going from $107.8 million to $226.8 million per year. While not all of these medicines would have been used for allergic rhinitis, treatment of this condition is likely to have accounted for a large proportion of the increase.

Seasonality of pharmacy supply pattern

Each year between 2006 and 2010, the wholesale supplies of oral antihistamines increased around July and peaked around October–November.