Nocturnal nasal obstruction is frequent and reduces sleep quality in patients with obstructive sleep apnea

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The prevalence and consequences of nasal obstruction in untreated obstructive sleep apnea patients are not known. The study objectives were to investigate the frequency of subjective and objective nasal obstruction in untreated sleep apnea patients and the associations with sleep and quality of life. Patients in the Icelandic Sleep Apnea Cohort were subjected to a type 3 sleep study, answered questionnaires and had their nasal dimensions measured by acoustic rhinometry. In total, 810 patients participated (including 153 females), aged 54.5 ± 10.6 years [mean ± standard deviation (SD)] with an apnea/hypopnea index 44.7 ± 20.7 h−1. Nocturnal nasal obstruction (greater than or equal to three times per week) was reported by 35% of the patients. These patients had smaller nasal dimensions measured by the minimum cross-sectional area within the smaller nasal valve (0.42 ± 0.17 versus 0.45 ± 0.16 cm2, P = 0.013), reported more daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale score 12.5 ± 4.9 versus 10.8 ± 5.0; P < 0.001) and slightly lower mental quality of life than patients without nocturnal nasal obstruction. Nocturnal nasal obstruction is reported in one-third of the sleep apnea patients and they are more likely to suffer from daytime sleepiness and slightly reduced quality of life than other sleep apnea patients.

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