Background and aim: Perennial allergic rhinitis impairs social life, but it is not known whether quality of life may be improved when patients are treated with an H1-blocker. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was carried out with cetirizine to assess the effect of this drug on quality of life.
Methods: Two hundred seventy-four patients with perennial allergic rhinitis were tested. Quality of life was measured by using the Medical Outcome Study Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) questionnaire. After a 2-week run-in period, cetirizine, 10 mg once daily, (136 patients) or placebo (138 patients) was given for the next 6 weeks. The SF-36 questionnaire was administered after the run-in period (at the start of treatment) and after 1 and 6 weeks of treatment. Symptom-medication scores were measured daily during the study.
Results: After the run-in period (baseline), there were no significant differences between the cetirizine and placebo groups in terms of symptoms or quality-of-life scores. After 6 weeks of treatment, percentage of days without rhinitis or with only mild rhinitis symptoms was significantly greater in the cetirizine group in comparison with the placebo group (p < 0.0001, Mann-Whitney U test). All of the nine quality-of-life dimensions were significantly improved (from p = 0.01 to p < 0.0001, Mann-Whitney U test) after 1 and 6 weeks of cetirizine treatment compared with placebo. There was no improvement in the placebo group.
Conclusions: This study is the first to demonstrate that an H1-blocker, cetirizine, can improve quality of life for patients with perennial allergic rhinitis.