Nose feel congested and stuffed up? Scientists from the Monell Center report that the annoying feeling of nasal obstruction is related to the temperature and humidity of inhaled air. The findings suggest that sensory feedback from nasal airflow contributes to the sensation of congestion. This knowledge may help researchers design and test more effective treatments for this familiar symptom of nasal sinus disease.
Nasal sinus disease, usually caused by infection or allergy, is one of the most common medical conditions in the United States, afflicting approximately 33 million people and accounting for over $5.8 billion in healthcare costs annually. Nasal congestion and the associated feeling of obstruction is the symptom that typically causes individuals to seek medical assistance.
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.”
In the study, published online in the free-access journal PLoS One, 44 healthy volunteers rated symptoms of nasal congestion after breathing air from three boxes: one containing room air at normal humidity, another containing dry air at room temperature, and the third containing cold air.
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.
“Someone in the desert, all other things being equal, should feel less congested than someone in the jungle. In the low humidity of the desert, there is more evaporative cooling inside of the nose, such that the temperature of the nasal passages is lower. This leads to a feeling of greater air flow – and less sensation of obstruction.” said co-author Bruce Bryant, Ph.D., a sensory scientist at Monell.
Future studies will examine patients reporting nasal obstruction to see if the sensory findings reported here can explain their symptoms, and also explore how sensory factors interact with other predictors of nasal obstruction.
Also contributing to the study were Kara Blacker, Yuehao Luo, and Jianbo Jiang, all of Monell. The research was funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Monell advances scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit www.monell.org.
Leslie Stein | Newswise Science News
Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University
3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy