Supine position decreases the ability of the nose to warm and humidify air

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Dec;91(6):2459-65. doi: 10.1152/jappl.2001.91.6.2459.


We tested the hypothesis that decreasing nasal air volume (i.e., increasing nasal turbinate blood volume) improves nasal air conditioning. We performed a randomized, two-way crossover study on the conditioning capacity of the nose in six healthy subjects in the supine and upright position. Cold, dry air (CDA) was delivered to the nose via a nasal mask, and the temperature and humidity of air were measured before it entered and after it exited the nasal cavity. The total water gradient (TWG) across the nose was calculated and represents the nasal conditioning capacity. Nasal volume decreased significantly from baseline without changing the mucosal temperature when subjects were placed in the supine position (P < 0.01). TWG in supine position was significantly lower than that in upright position (P < 0.001). In the supine position, nasal mucosal temperature after CDA exposure was significantly lower than that in upright position (P < 0.01). Our data show that placing subjects in the supine position decreased the ability of the nose to condition CDA compared with the upright position, in contrast to our hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air*
  • Body Temperature
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Humidity*
  • Male
  • Nasal Cavity / physiology*
  • Nasal Mucosa / physiology
  • Supine Position / physiology*