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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e24618. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024618. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Perceiving nasal patency through mucosal cooling rather than air temperature or nasal resistance.

Author information

1
Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America. kzhao@monell.org

Abstract

Adequate perception of nasal airflow (i.e., nasal patency) is an important consideration for patients with nasal sinus diseases. The perception of a lack of nasal patency becomes the primary symptom that drives these patients to seek medical treatment. However, clinical assessment of nasal patency remains a challenge because we lack objective measurements that correlate well with what patients perceive. The current study examined factors that may influence perceived patency, including air temperature, humidity, mucosal cooling, nasal resistance, and trigeminal sensitivity. Forty-four healthy subjects rated nasal patency while sampling air from three facial exposure boxes that were ventilated with untreated room air, cold air, and dry air, respectively. In all conditions, air temperature and relative humidity inside each box were recorded with sensors connected to a computer. Nasal resistance and minimum airway cross-sectional area (MCA) were measured using rhinomanometry and acoustic rhinometry, respectively. General trigeminal sensitivity was assessed through lateralization thresholds to butanol. No significant correlation was found between perceived patency and nasal resistance or MCA. In contrast, air temperature, humidity, and butanol threshold combined significantly contributed to the ratings of patency, with mucosal cooling (heat loss) being the most heavily weighted predictor. Air humidity significantly influences perceived patency, suggesting that mucosal cooling rather than air temperature alone provides the trigeminal sensation that results in perception of patency. The dynamic cooling between the airstream and the mucosal wall may be quantified experimentally or computationally and could potentially lead to a new clinical evaluation tool.

PMID:
22022361
PMCID:
PMC3192719
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0024618
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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