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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Feb;75(2):177-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2010.10.029.

Acoustic rhinometry, spirometry and nitric oxide in relation to airway allergy and smoking habits in an adolescent cohort.

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Allergy Centre, ENT Section, University Hospital, 58185 Linköping, Sweden.



This study aimed to analyze upper and lower airway function and the impact of smoking habits in a cohort of allergic and healthy adolescents. The influence of smoking habits on the outcomes of rhinitis and asthma is well documented, but only few reports are available showing smoke related upper airway impairment by rhinometric measurements, and none with focus on early changes in adolescents.


A cohort followed from infancy was re-examined at the age of 18 years concerning allergy development. Acoustic rhinometry (VOL2), spirometry (FEV(1)) and measurements of nitric oxide levels from the upper (nNO) and lower airways (eNO) were performed before and after physical exercise, and smoking habits were registered.


Active smoking habits were reported by 4/21 subjects suffering from allergic rhinitis, by 1/4 from probable allergic rhinitis, by 0/3 subjects with atopic dermatitis and by 2/10 healthy controls. Smoking habits were reported as daily by 2 and occasional by 5 of the 7 active smokers. VOL2 did not increase in smokers after exercise as in non-smokers, resulting in a post-exercise group difference (7.3±1.1cm(3) vs. 8.8±1.5cm(3); p=0.02), and FEV(1) values were lower in smokers compared to non-smokers (89±7% vs. 98±8%; p=0.02). The nNO and eNO levels were, however, only slightly reduced in smokers. Airway allergy was discerned only in subjects with current allergen exposure by increased eNO levels compared to healthy controls (41±44ppb vs. 13±5ppb). The levels of VOL2, nNO and FEV(1) did not differentiate allergic subjects from healthy controls.


Low levels of tobacco smoke exposure resulted in reduced airway functions in this adolescent cohort. Acoustic rhinometry and spirometry were found to be more sensitive methods compared to nitric oxide measurements in early detection of airway impairment related to smoke exposure. A possible difference in airway vulnerability between allergic and healthy subjects due to smoke exposure remains to be evaluated in larger study groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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