Pathophysiology of nasal congestion
Robert M Naclerio1, Claus Bachert2, James N Baraniuk3
1University of Chicago, Department of Surgery, Section of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Chicago, Illinois, USA; 2University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; 3Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA
Abstract: Nasal congestion is a common symptom in rhinitis (both allergic and nonallergic), rhinosinusitis and nasal polyposis. Congestion can also be caused by physical obstruction of nasal passages and/or modulation of sensory perception. Mucosal inflammation underlies many of the specific and interrelated factors that contribute to nasal congestion, as well as other symptoms of both allergic rhinitis and rhinosinusitis. A wide range of biologically active agents (eg, histamine, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukins, cell adhesion molecules) and cell types contribute to inflammation, which can manifest as venous engorgement, increased nasal secretions and tissue swelling/edema, ultimately leading to impaired airflow and the sensation of nasal congestion. Inflammation-induced changes in the properties of sensory afferents (eg, expression of peptides and receptors) that innervate the nose can also contribute to altered sensory perception, which may result in a subjective feeling of congestion. Increased understanding of the mechanisms underlying inflammation can facilitate improved treatment selection and the development of new therapies for congestion.
Keywords: allergic rhinitis, congestion, obstruction, pathophysiology, rhinosinusitis
© 2010 The Author(s). This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.