Rhinitis in Swiss adults is associated with asthma and early life factors, but not second hand tobacco smoke or obesity

Michael J. Abramson, Christian Schindler, Tamara Schikowski, Andreas J. Bircher, Luc Burdet, Margaret W. Gerbase, Medea Imboden, Thierry Rochat, Peter Schmid-Grendelmeier, Alexander J. Turk, Elisabeth Zemp, Nino Künzli, Nicole Probst-Hensch

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Second hand tobacco smoke (SHS) and overweight/obesity are risk factors for asthma and lower airway respiratory symptoms. We investigated whether SHS or overweight/obesity were also associated with allergic or non-allergic rhinitis. 

Methods: Cross-sectional data were obtained during the second SAPALDIA Study. Interviewer administered questionnaires were completed by 8047 participants from 8 communities in Switzerland. Blood was collected from 5841 participants and tested for allergen specific IgE. Allergic rhinitis was defined as nasal symptoms with detectable IgE. Data were analysed by multinomial logistic regression with four outcome categories defined according to the presence or absence of rhinitis and/or atopy. 

Results: The prevalence of allergic rhinitis was 885 (15.2%) and non-allergic rhinitis 323 (5.5%). The risk of allergic rhinitis was increased in subjects with physician diagnosed asthma (Relative Risk Ratio 6.81; 95%CI 5.39, 8.6), maternal atopy (1.56; 1.27, 1.92) and paternal atopy (1.41; 1.11, 1.79). Older subjects were at lower risk (0.96; 0.95,0.97 per year), as were those raised on a farm (0.64; 0.49,0.84), with older siblings (0.92; 0.86,0.97 per sib) or from rural areas. The risk of non-allergic rhinitis was also increased in subjects with physician diagnosed asthma (4.02; 2.86, 5.67), reduced in males (0.59; 0.46, 0.77), but not associated with upbringing on a farm or older siblings. There were no significant associations of SHS or overweight/obesity with either form of rhinitis. 

Conclusions: Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis have different risk factors apart from asthma. There are significant regional variations within Switzerland, which are not explained by the factors examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-198
Number of pages7
JournalAllergology International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Non-allergic rhinitis
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Second hand smoke

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