Allergic and nonallergic rhinitis: the threat for obstructive sleep apnea

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Although allergic rhinitis (AR) is accepted as a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), the role of nonallergic rhinitis (NAR) is unknown.


To compare OSAS in patients with AR vs NAR.


We performed an observational study in 48 adults with AR and NAR that included a review of rhinitis and sleep symptoms, skin prick test results, self-administered questionnaire (Epworth Sleepiness Scale and 36-Item Short Form Health Survey) findings, and all-night polysomnography records.


The most frequent sleep symptom was snoring. Patients with AR had a significantly longer sleep duration and better sleep efficiency than did those with NAR. Both groups had frequent arousals. OSAS was diagnosed in 36% of patients with AR and in 83% of those with NAR (P = .001). Severe OSAS existed only in the NAR group. NAR showed a high correlation with OSAS (odds ratio, 6.4) and with apneas (odds ratio, 0.2). Body mass index, sex, and coexisting asthma did not have any predictable effect on OSAS, but age was correlated with OSAS. The impairment in quality of life was similar in both groups.


Both AR and NAR are risk factors for a high apnea-hypopnea index, and both can predispose to sleep apnea. However, NAR seems to have a greater risk according to impaired polysomnography results and higher Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores. Therefore, patients with rhinitis should be treated not only for nasal symptoms but also for a better quality of sleep.

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