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Br J Anaesth. 1994 Sep;73(3):298-302.

Sensitivity of upper airway reflexes in cigarette smokers: effect of abstinence.

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University Department of Anaesthesia, Leicester Royal Infirmary.


In two studies we have compared the upper airway reflex sensitivity (UARS) of chronic cigarette smokers with that of non-smokers and also the effect of different periods of abstinence on UARS in the smoking groups. UARS was measured by recording the threshold concentration of dilute ammonia vapour required to stimulate reflex glottic closure. The first study compared UARS in 20 non-smokers with 20 smokers, followed by another measurement in the smoking group after 24 h of abstinence. In study two, we measured UARS repeatedly over a period of 3-4 weeks in 16 smokers, half of whom had stopped smoking on day 0. Chronic cigarette smokers were found to have significantly greater UARS compared with non-smokers; the sensitivity was unaltered after 24 h of abstinence but was found to reduce over several days, the change commencing between 24 and 48 h, with most achieving a consistent change within 10 days.

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