Background: The parasympathetic nervous system plays an important role in the nasal response to external stimuli.
Objective: To review studies showing the role of the parasympathetic nervous system in the nasal response and the effect of topical, intranasal anticholinergic agents on that response.
Method: Literature review of in vivo human studies.
Results: Nasal provocation with methacholine leads to glandular stimulation. The response to methacholine provocation can be blocked by treatment with ipratropium bromide. Stimulation of one nostril with histamine, antigen, and cold, dry air leads to a bilateral secretory response that is partially inhibited by topical treatment with atropine.
Conclusion: Topical anticholinergic agents should be useful in the reduction of glandular hypersecretion regardless of the etiology.