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Olfactory stimulation may modulate the sensation of nasal patency

Volume: 61 - Issue: 1

First page: 24 - Last page: 31

Y.-T. Chao - A. Nakov - A. Haehner - S. Poletti - T. Hummel

Background: The sensation of nasal patency can be induced by inhaling menthol, which predominantly produces trigeminal stimulation. It remains unclear whether olfactory stimulation can also induce or modulate the sensation of nasal patency.
Methodology: A total of 118 participants (normosmia: n=67, olfactory dysfunction: n=51) were exposed to four odors in a randomized order: 1) phenylethanol (PEA), 2) menthol, 3) a mixture of PEA and menthol, 4) nearly odorless propylene glycol. The odors were presented by nasal clips. After the nasal clip had been removed, the participants rated relative nasal patency (RNP) from - 50 to +50, and their peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF) was measured. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to examine the difference of RNP and PNIF among the four conditions and the influence of olfactory function.
Results: The RNPs, other than PNIFs, differed between the four conditions. Menthol induced the highest RNP, followed by the mixed solution, PEA and the odorless condition. Normosmic participants, but not those with olfactory dysfunction, responded to PEA significantly higher than odorless condition with regard to RNP. The correlation analysis showed that the better the subjective or measured olfactory performance, the greater the PEA-induced sensation of nasal patency.
Conclusions: A specific olfactory stimulant that selectively induces olfactory perception can also evoke and modulate the sensation of nasal patency. Hence, patients might benefit from exposing themselves to odors in order to relieve the annoying nasal obstruction.

Rhinology 61-1: 24-31, 2023

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