Nasal air conditioning diminished in asthmatics

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People with asthma have a decreased ability to warm and humidify air nasally, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Robert M. Naclerio and colleagues note that in previous work they determined that when challenged with cold, dry air, patients with seasonal rhinitis showed an increased nasal conditioning ability during periods of inflammation and a reduced ability at other times.

To examine the situation in other populations, the researchers delivered cold, dry air to the noses of 15 asthmatics. Temperature and humidity of the air on entering and leaving the nasal cavity were measured.

The same procedures were also performed in 15 people with perennial rhinitis, 15 with seasonal rhinitis outside of the allergy season and 15 normal controls. The findings appeared in the November 1st issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Those with perennial rhinitis had significantly greater ability to condition air than those with asymptomatic seasonal rhinitis, and there were no significant differences in measures of conditioning capacity between controls and those with perennial rhinitis.

However, scores for asthmatics were significantly lower than those of controls, and were similar to those of patients with asymptomatic rhinitis. Furthermore, "the more severe the asthma, the worse was the ability of the nose to condition air."

Although the exact clinical implications of these findings are unknown, Dr. Naclerio told Reuters Health that "they may lead to a better understanding of exercise-induced asthma or implicate novel mechanisms in the pathophysiology of airway disease."

Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2001;164:1640-1646.

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