Purpose of review
Allergic rhinitis and nonallergic rhinitis (NAR) are common disorders, which have been considered as potential risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This review summarizes the proposed underlying pathophysiological mechanisms to provide a better understanding of the relationship between these conditions.
In adults, allergic rhinitis and NAR may be considered as symptoms potentiating, rather than risk potentiating factors in the pathophysiology of OSA, whereas in children, these are considered to be independent predictors for sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and failure of adeno-tonsillectomy, the recommended first-line therapy for children with OSA. Current advances suggest IL-6 may be important in regulating the sleep–wake cycle, and serum soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) levels may reflect the severity of OSA. Elevated Th17/Treg ratio correlates positively with apnea–hypopnea index of OSA patients, and Th17 and Treg imbalances caused by allergic rhinitis and OSA, respectively, may possibly promote each other, leading to further imbalance. Moreover, obesity is a strong risk factor for OSA, and leptin plays an important role in ventilatory function and upper airway obstruction. The variant trigeminocardiac reflex and nasotrigeminal reflex may also be involved in the association between rhinitis and OSA.
Allergic rhinitis/NAR and OSA are closely associated, and each condition can be detrimental to the other. Thus, clinicians should pay attention to the potential presence of allergic rhinitis/NAR in OSA patients and vice versa.