Obstruction of the nasal passages is one of the most common conditions treated by otolaryngologists and facial plastic surgeons, according to background information in the article. Common causes include septal deviation, which occurs when the wall separating the two nasal passages is crooked or off-center; valve insufficiency, caused by improper positioning or collapse of cartilage inside the nasal passages; and turbinate hypertrophy, when air flow is blocked by large or swollen turbinates, areas inside the nose covered by mucous membranes that help warm and filter incoming air. Surgical procedures to treat these types of conditions are collectively known as functional rhinoplasty.
However, symptoms of nasal congestion have been difficult to treat effectively because, as many physicians have found, patient reports of congestion often have little relationship to the actual physical obstruction of nasal airflow.
"By establishing that feelings of nasal congestion can be sensory-related, we open doors for more targeted treatment," said study lead author Kai Zhao, Ph.D., a bioengineer at Monell. "For example, effective treatments may need to include a focus on restoring optimal humidity and temperature in the patient's nasal airflow."
"Functional rhinoplasty techniques are effective in improving nasal airway function as measured by a patient-based, disease-specific, quality-of-life instrument," Dr. Most concludes. "The specific techniques considered to treat nasal obstruction can be tailored to address the areas of concern, including septal deviation, internal or external valve collapse and turbinate hypertrophy."
The volunteers reported reduced nasal congestion after breathing from both the cold air box and the dry air box as compared with the room air box, with the cold air box decreasing reports of congestion most effectively. Calculations revealed that humidity also was an important factor, with lower humidity associated with decreased feelings of congestion.
The authors speculate that temperature and humidity interact as air moves through the nasal cavity to influence nasal cooling. It is this cooling that is then detected by 'cool sensors' inside the nose to influence the feeling of air flow as being either easy or obstructed.
"The degrees of quality of life improvement, compared with the preoperative generic health status, were 30.4 percent for role-emotional [problems with work or daily activities caused by emotional difficulties], 20.7 percent for role-physical, 18.9 percent for vitality, 14.8 percent for mental health, 11.4 percent for generic health, 7.4 percent for social functioning, 1.6 percent for physical functioning and 1 percent for bodily pain," the authors write. "These results suggest that, when nasal obstruction in OSA patients was relieved, their generic health improved and that the effects were especially remarkable in reducing role limitations caused by physical or emotional problems. allergy medicine"
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