Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between allergic rhinitis (AR) and autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction. Methods: Quantitative ANS testing was completed in 10 patients with AR confirmed by clinical findings and allergy testing. This data was compared to 16 age-matched controls. Results: ANS scores were significantly abnormal in AR patients when compared to normal controls. The composite autonomic scale score for the AR group was significantly impaired when compared to controls (1.6 vs 0.63, P < 0.0001). Additionally, subscore values quantifying the level of dysfunction within the sympathetic nervous system (1.0 for sudomotor and 0.5 adrenergic) were found to be significantly different (P < 0.0001 and 0.018). The mean subscore value quantifying the level of dysfunction within the parasympathetic system (cardiovagal) was not found to be significantly different from controls (P = 0.38). Conclusions: ANS dysfunction, specifically sympathetic hypofunction, was identified in all of the allergic rhinitis patients studied. Further characterization of the type of ANS abnormality may allow the development of novel pharmacologic therapies for these disorders.
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