European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 276, Issue 5, pp 1391–1396 | Cite as

Nasal response to stress test in healthy subjects: an experimental pilot study

  • Heloïse De Kermadec
  • Emilie BequignonEmail author
  • Francoise Zerah-Lancner
  • Antoine Garin
  • Marie Devars du Mayne
  • André Coste
  • Bruno Louis
  • Jean-François Papon



Stress has been suspected to play a role in rhinitis. The role of stress on nasal patency has been not yet elucidated. The aim was to evaluate the potential effects of stress on nasal patency in healthy subjects.


We conducted a prospective pilot study including 12 healthy subjects. Experimental protocol was divided in three periods (pre-task, task and recovery). In the task period, subjects were exposed to the “Trier Social Stress Test” (TSST), a standardized laboratory stressor. Different parameters including Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory (SSAI) score, visual analogic scale (VAS) of nasal patency feeling, heart rate, acoustic rhinometry measurements have been compared between the three different periods. The study population was divided into two groups according to the Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) score: A “non anxious” group and a “weakly anxious” group.


Seven subjects were in the “non anxious” group and five in the “weakly anxious” group. TSST significantly increased heart rate in all volunteers. SSAI score was significantly increased (p = 0.04) after the task period (36.6 ± 11.3) when compared to the SSAI score in pre-task period (31.9 ± 12.6). VAS score of nasal patency feeling significantly decreased from pre-task to task and recovery periods. Mean minimal cross-sectional areas and mean volumes of the nasal cavities were not significantly different between the three periods, except in “weakly anxious” group, but the small number of subjects does not allow to draw a definite conclusion.


We observed that stress influenced the feeling of nasal patency in healthy subjects. However, the objective effects of stress on nasal geometry were globally non-significant except in “weakly anxious” group. This latter result of our pilot study needs to be confirmed in a larger cohort.


Trier social stress test Autonomous nervous system Nasal obstruction Anxiety Nasal patency Stress 



The authors deeply thank Felicity Nielson for careful rereading of the manuscript.


This study was not sponsored by any external financial support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors have no conflict of interest in connection to this study.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The experimental protocol was approved by the local research ethics committee (IRB).

Research involving human participants

Experimental protocol was approved by the local research ethics committee (IRB).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heloïse De Kermadec
    • 1
  • Emilie Bequignon
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Francoise Zerah-Lancner
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Antoine Garin
    • 7
    • 8
  • Marie Devars du Mayne
    • 1
  • André Coste
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Bruno Louis
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jean-François Papon
    • 3
    • 5
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Centre Hospitalier Intercommunal de Créteil, service d’Oto-Rhino-Laryngologie et de chirurgie cervico- facialeCréteilFrance
  2. 2.AP-HP, Hôpital Henri Mondor, service d’oto-rhino-laryngologie et de chirurgie cervico-facialeCréteilFrance
  3. 3.INSERM U955 Equipe 13, Faculte de MedecineCréteil CedexFrance
  4. 4.Faculté de MédecineUniversité Paris-EstCréteilFrance
  5. 5.CNRS, ERL 7240CréteilFrance
  6. 6.AP-HP, Hôpital Henri-Mondor – A Chenevier, service de physiologie et d’explorations fonctionnellesCréteilFrance
  7. 7.AP-HP, Hôpital Bicêtre, service d’oto-rhino-laryngologie et de chirurgie cervico-facialeLe Kremlin- BicêtreFrance
  8. 8.Faculté de MédecineUniversité Paris-SudLe Kremlin-BicêtreFrance

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