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The impact of pulmonary tuberculosis treatment on the prevalence of allergic rhinitis

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August 22, 2013
by Carren Teh Sui Lin, MBBS, MS(ORL-HNS); Gopala Krishnan, MBBS, FRSC(Ed); and Anura Michelle Manuel, MBBS, MS(ORL-HNS)


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.

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