Background: Allergic rhinitis (AR) is recognized as a major health problem worldwide, and its prevalence depends on the age range of the subjects. The aims of this study were to determine the current prevalence of AR, effects of age on the prevalence of IgE sensitization to inhalant allergens, and serum total IgE levels in Japanese subjects. Methods: We conducted a survey of 1,540 subjects between 20 and 49 years of age in 2006 and 2007 and examined the prevalence of AR and sensitization to 7 common aeroallergens. We measured serum total IgE and specific IgE to 7 aeroallergens. AR was determined based on symptoms, predominantly in the nose and eyes, caused by aeroallergens as mentioned in a questionnaire and sensitization to any of the 7 aeroallergens as assessed by measurement of serum specific IgE. Results: The prevalence of AR was 44.2% (681 of the 1,540 subjects) and there was no difference among age decades. Of the 1,540 subjects, 1,073 (69.7%) were sensitized to at least 1 of the 7 aeroallergens. The most common allergen in AR was Japanese cedar pollen (89.6%, 610 of the 681 with AR) in all the age decades examined. The sensitization rate to mites was significantly higher in the younger subjects. Conclusion: Our data suggest that the prevalence of AR between 20 and 49 years of age has increased by nearly 10% during the last 10 years. Cedar pollen and mites were predominant allergen sources among the 7 aeroallergens in the Japanese population.
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