Purpose of review: Rhinitis is a common condition associated with significant under-recognized morbidity and impaired quality of life. The natural history of rhinitis is poorly characterized. Better understanding of its natural history and associated risk factors would improve the ability to effectively manage rhinitis in clinical practice. This review focuses on the current research findings on the natural history of rhinitis and how that is influenced by atopy and sex.
Recent findings: Recent work from the Isle of Wight Birth Cohort Study has demonstrated that the prevalence of atopic rhinitis increases steadily in the first 18 years of life in both sexes. However, nonatopic rhinitis behaves differently during adolescence. Its prevalence decreases in boys but continues to increase in girls resulting in a female predominance after puberty. Numerous recent studies have proposed potential roles for sex-related and adipose-related hormonal changes in influencing the course of allergic disease. Further research is needed to establish mechanisms that could underlie such findings.
Summary: Rhinitis becomes increasingly common through childhood, with prevalence during adolescence being mediated by differential effects of sex and atopy. Mechanisms to explain these findings await elucidation.