Allergic rhinitis

 In 2017–18, 19% of Australians had allergic rhinitis based on self-reported data from the 2017–18  Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey (NHS) [1]. Children were less likely to have allergic rhinitis (10%) compared with all other age groups (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Prevalence of allergic rhinitis by age, 2017–18

The bar chart shows the prevalence of allergic rhinitis by different age groups in 2017─18. Children aged 0–14 years were less likely to have allergic rhinitis (12%25 for boys and 8%25 for girls respectively) compared with all other age groups.

Note: Allergic rhinitis refers to self-reported current and long-term allergic rhinitis.
Source: ABS National Health Survey: First results, 2017–18 (Data table).

The ACT had the highest rate of allergic rhinitis in Australia (29%) in 2017–18 compared with all other states and territories (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Prevalence of allergic rhinitis by state, 2017–18

The bar chart shows the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in different states and territories in 2017─18. The overall prevalence of allergic rhinitis in Australia was 19%25. ACT had the highest prevalence of allergic rhinitis (29%25) compared to all other states and territories.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
Source: ABS National Health Survey: First results, 2017–18 (Data table).

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 allergic rhinitis, 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 [2]. 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 [2].

References

  1. ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018. National Health Survey: First Results, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2011. Allergic rhinitis (‘hay fever’) in Australia. Cat. no. ACM 23. Canberra: AIHW.