The effect of nasal CPAP on the nostrils

26 Feb The effect of nasal CPAP on the nostrils

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the first line treatment for sleep apnoea and the pressure is typically delivered through a nasal mask while you sleep.  But how important is the humidifier you may ask?

This recent study evaluated what effect the use of nasal CPAP had on the nostrils of patients.  36 patients with no previous nasal problems were tested before and after 2 months of CPAP use.  Patients were divided in either compliant (>4hrs/night) or non-compliant (<4hrs/night) CPAP users.

Clinical changes measured included Ear, nose & throat (ENT) symptoms, Epworth Sleepiness Score (ESS), anxiety/depression scales, nose-specific and general quality of life changes.

ENT examination and computed tomography assessed anatomical changes.  Auditive and Eustachian tube function, nasal flow and mucociliary transport tests assessed functional changes while nasal cytology was also measured.

A significant improvement was observed in daytime sleepiness, anxiety and depression with the use of CPAP as expected.  Nasal dryness, increased neutrophils in nasal cytology and deteriorating ciliary function were observed, particularly in the compliant group.  No other significant differences were observed.  The only factor predictive of compliance was baseline sleepiness.

Even without previous nasal problems, nasal CPAP was found to increase rhinitis and airway dryness but also improved clinical factors such as daytime sleepiness.   Humidifiers have been shown in other studies to improve symptoms of dryness, so if you are suffering from airway dryness when using your CPAP try turning up the humidity settings.