Abstract

Nasal obstruction is a frequent condition in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Nasal obstruction leads to mouth breathing, which is thought to destabilise the upper airway to aggravate the condition. Three conditions could be considered as the cause of the nasal breathing obstruction: anatomical conditions of the nose (septum deviation, hypertrophy of the inferior turbinates), chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) and chronic nasal inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis or non-allergic cellular rhinitis. In this prospective study, we present an evaluation of all these possible rhino-sinusal aspects in OSA patients to correlate different nasal pathologies with nasal obstruction. Fifty patients with a diagnosis of OSA were enrolled in the study. In 70% of OSA patients, nasal obstruction was confirmed by clinical evaluation and rhinomanometry testing. Normal rhino-sinus aspects were present in only 20% of OSAS patients, whereas one or more pathological rhino-sinus conditions were present in the remaining 80%. The percentage of OSA patients with a diagnosis of allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis was 18% and 26% respectively. Non-allergic rhinitis with neutrophils (NARNE) was the most frequent type of cellular rhinitis diagnosed in OSA patients (20% of cases). The results of the present study support and extend the observation that rhinitis is present in OSA patients. Mucosal inflammation caused by these conditions could be the cause of upper airway patency impairment inducing nasal mucosa swelling.