Study objectives: Rhinitis and asthma are considered to be synchronic or sequential forms of the same allergic syndrome. Treating the inflammation associated with allergic rhinitis influences the control of asthma. However, few studies have investigated the effect of treating perennial rhinitis on persistent asthma and vice versa. We determined the effects of inhaled or topical nasal beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) administered separately or in combination on the control of asthma and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) in patients with the rhinitis/asthma association.
Design: A double-blind, parallel, three-group study.
Setting: Outpatient clinic of Pulmonary Division/Heart Institute (InCor) and the Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Sao Paulo Medical School, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Patients: Seventy-four patients with mild-to-moderate asthma and allergic rhinitis (median age, 25 years).
Interventions: Patients received nasal or inhaled BDP separately or in combination for 16 weeks after a 2-week placebo run-in period.
Measurements and results: Nasal and pulmonary symptoms, as well as pulmonary function and BHR, were compared among the three groups after 4 weeks and 16 weeks of treatment. Patients in all three groups demonstrated a progressive and significant decrease in nasal and pulmonary symptoms, which started after 4 weeks (p < 0.05) and continued through the end of treatment (p < 0.001). Clinical improvement was similar and parallel in the three groups. Asthma-related morbidity, evaluated by quantifying absence from work, emergency department visits, and nighttime awakenings, also decreased in the three groups (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Failure to consider treatment of rhinitis as essential to asthma management might impair clinical control of asthma. Furthermore, these data suggest that asthma and rhinitis in some patients can be controlled by the exclusive use of nasal medication.