The Degree of Stress in Patients With Empty Nose Syndrome, Compared With Chronic Rhinosinusitis and Allergic Rhinitis

Ear Nose Throat J. 2021 Feb;100(2):NP87-NP92. doi: 10.1177/0145561319858912. Epub 2019 Jul 4.


Background: Depression is a mental health disease of growing public health concern because depressive mood affects the sufferer's daily life and is also associated with productivity decline. Depression that is caused by other diseases or substances is referred to as secondary depression, which is an important distinction because curing the underlying cause could subsequently regulate depressive mood. Empty nose syndrome (ENS), also known as "paradoxical obstruction of the nose," is a condition in which the major symptom is difficulty breathing, despite having sufficient breathing space in the nose. Empty nose syndrome has been increasing in prevalence in Korea. We found that patients with this ENS have a tendency toward depressive mood, which can escalate so far as to lead to suicide attempts. Thus, herein, we aimed to investigate the psychological burden on patients with ENS.

Methods: We divided patients into 4 groups: ENS (group A), chronic rhinosinusitis with polyp (CRS c polyp, group B), chronic rhinosinusitis without polyp (CRS s polyp, group C), and allergic rhinitis (AR, group D). We estimated and compared Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores among the 4 groups, and we investigated the relationship between depression index and nasal cavity area in patients with ENS.

Results: The ENS group (A) had depression prevalence of 71% with varying severity, which was much higher than group B (19%), group C (15%), and group D (27%). The correlation between nasal cavity volume and BDI score for the ENS group was not statistically significant.

Conclusion: The degree and severity of depression in patients with ENS was higher than in patients with CRS or AR. Furthermore, there was no relationship between depression severity and nasal cavity volume in the patients with ENS. Thus, physicians should be careful not to dismiss the accompanying mental health problems of patients with ENS.

Keywords: allergic rhinitis; chronic sinusitis; depression; empty nose syndrome.