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The Dilemma of Occupational Rhinitis

Management Options


Occupational rhinitis is a common heterogeneous group of inflammatory conditions in the nose, caused by exposure to airborne irritants and sensitizers in the occupational environment. The mechanism can be allergic, neurogenic or toxic.

Data from several epidemiologic studies indicate that animal dander, organic dusts, latex and chemicals can cause occupational rhinitis, but because of methodological problems as well as weaknesses in the definition of occupational rhinitis, occupational exposure is probably an underestimated cause of rhinitis. The effect of rhinitis on the mental aspects of quality of life and substantial costs due to loss of productivity make it important to diagnose and treat occupational rhinitis. Diagnosis relies on a history of exposure, skin prick testing and, if possible, nasal provoacation. Avoidance of exposure, protective measures at the workplace and medical treatment, with agents such as second generation antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids, can make it possible to avoid progress of the disease from rhinitis to asthma. The efficacies of montelukast, a leukotrienne receptor antagonist, and omalizumab, an anti-immunoglobulin E monoclonal antibody in the treatment of occupational rhinitis are yet to be evaluated

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The authors would like to acknowledge The Herman Krefting Fund for Medical Research, The Medical Society of Gotëborg, GSK, Sweden, Torsten and Ragnar Soderbergh Foundation for Scientific Research and Astra Zenaca, Sweden.

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Correspondence to Dr Johan Hellgren.

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Hellgren, J., Karlsson, G. & Torén, K. The Dilemma of Occupational Rhinitis. Am J Respir Med 2, 333–341 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03256661

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  • Rhinitis
  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Omalizumab
  • Nasal Symptom
  • Occupational Asthma