Nasal Mucociliary Clearance and Sinonasal Symptoms in Healthcare Professionals Wearing FFP3 Respirators: A Prospective Cross-Sectional Study

ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2022;84(5):406-411. doi: 10.1159/000524418. Epub 2022 May 2.


Introduction: The purpose of the present study was to assess nasal mucociliary clearance (NMC) and sinonasal symptoms of healthcare professionals wearing filtering facepiece-3 (FFP3) respirators.

Methods: This prospective cross-sectional study was conducted at a large tertiary care academic center. Thirty-four healthcare professionals working at a coronavirus disease-19 patient care unit were included in the study. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores of sinonasal symptoms (nasal discharge, postnasal discharge, nasal blockage, hyposmia, facial pain/pressure, facial fullness, headache, fatigue, halitosis, cough) and the NMC times of the participants were assessed immediately before wearing FFP3 respirators and after 4 h of work with FFP3 respirators.

Results: The mean age of the participants was 28.82 ± 4.95 (range, 26-31) years. Twenty participants were female and 14 were male. After wearing the FFP3 respirators for 4 h, a statistically significant increase was observed in total VAS scores for all sinonasal symptoms and NMC times (p < 0.001). When the VAS score of each sinonasal symptom was evaluated separately, a statistically significant increase was found for VAS scores of nasal discharge, postnasal discharge, nasal blockage, hyposmia, facial pain/pressure, and facial fullness (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: The present study shows that nasal mucosal functions might be affected significantly after 4 h of using FFP3 respirators. The long-term effects and clinical significance of these short-term changes should be investigated on healthcare professionals in further studies.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; FFP3 respirator; Mask; Nasal mucociliary clearance; Sinonasal symptom.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anosmia
  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Facial Pain
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mucociliary Clearance
  • Nasal Obstruction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ventilators, Mechanical