Atopy is a syndrome characterized by immediate hypersensitivity reactions to common environmental antigens. The “hygiene hypothesis” stipulates that childhood infections are associated with a lower risk of allergies. Not much has been published about the effects that the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) has on allergies, specifically allergic rhinitis. We conducted a study to investigate the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in patients with pulmonary TB before and after treatment of their TB. Our initial study group was made up of 121 patients with confirmed pulmonary TB who were followed up by questionnaire. In addition to demographic data, they provided information about their personal and family history of atopy and their current status with regard to allergic rhinitis. After providing informed consent, all patients underwent skin-prick testing with Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Dermatophagoides farinae, and Blomia tropicalis allergens before and after TB treatment. Stool samples were obtained to identify patients with worm infestation, and they were excluded from the study. In all, 94 patients completed treatment and follow-up, and their data were included in the final analysis. Of this group, 31 patients (33.0%) exhibited symptoms of allergic rhinitis prior to TB treatment, and 26 (27.7%) had a positive skin-prick test. Following treatment, only 12 patients (12.8%) reported allergic rhinitis symptoms (p = 0.004), but there was no significant reduction in the number of patients with a positive skin-prick test (n = 20 [21.3%]; p = 0.555). We conclude that the treatment of pulmonary TB results in significant relief of atopy, particularly allergic rhinitis symptoms.
An estimated 8.7 million new cases of tuberculosis (TB) occurred in 2011, with the highest burden in Asia and Africa.1 Of the cases in Asia, about 60% occurred in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region.1 Malaysia reported a total of 20,666 cases, of which 19,251 were new; the incidence in Malaysia is roughly 81 per 100,000 population.1