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Acupuncture for hay fever sufferers

Acupuncture added to standard treatment helps improve quality of life in people with hay fever.

Acupuncture for hay fever sufferers

Acupuncture added to standard treatment helps improve quality of life in people with hay fever.Hay fever, known medically as allergic rhinitis, has become more common over the past two decades. The condition is costly to society, both in terms of lost productivity and treatment costs.Up to 19 percent of people with allergic rhinitis use acupuncture to help treat their symptoms. To examine how the cost of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis relates to its benefits, researchers from Germany used an equation called the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER). This allowed them to calculate how much it would cost for a person to gain an additional year of good quality of life based on having acupuncture for allergic rhinitis. The researchers looked at 981 patients with allergic rhinitis. All were getting usual care, but 487 were assigned to have acupuncture also. These patients averaged about 10 sessions over the three-month study. Costs for treating these patients averaged about 763 euros ($960), compared to 332 euros ($420) for the comparison group.
At three months, average quality of life was better for the acupuncture group, but this was mostly due to improvements for women. There was no significant benefit for men. It's not clear why women fared better. One study of acupuncture for chronic neck pain also showed better results for women. According to the current study, the women had higher expectations of acupuncture for pain treatment than men, which could be a factor.
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The findings show that if patients suffering from allergic rhinitis use acupuncture in addition to usual care they have better quality of life compared to those patients who use only usual care. This acupuncture treatment results in additional costs; however, according to international benchmarks it is cost-effective.
American Journal of Epidemiology
March 2009

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