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ISRN Pulmonology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 598589, 5 pages
Research Article

The Effect of Ageing on Nasal Mucociliary Clearance in Women: A Pilot Study

1Department of Physiology, Tagore Medical College, Chennai 600 127, India
2Department of Physiology, Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Chennai 600 116, India

Received 26 January 2013; Accepted 6 March 2013

Academic Editors: A. Celi, A. Comellas, T. J. Kelley, and A. S. Melani

Copyright © 2013 Preetha Paul et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in the elderly. Impaired respiratory defences are one of the causes for increased susceptibility of the elderly to such infections. Nasal mucociliary clearance, the mirror image of bronchial clearance, is crucial in respiratory defence and is affected by various factors. Little is known about the effect of ageing on nasal respiratory epithelium. Aim. To evaluate the effect of ageing on nasal mucociliary clearance (NMC) in women. Materials and Methods. NMC was measured in 91 apparently healthy women of ages ranging from 20 to 80 years. The time taken to experience sweet taste at nasopharynx following the placement of saccharin pellet in the nostril was recorded as NMC time. Results and Discussion. NMC time was 10 min 36 secs in elderly women and it was significantly prolonged when compared to younger women (8 min 39 secs). The prolonged clearance may be due to altered cilia, slowed ciliary beating, or changes in the properties of mucus. Conclusion. NMC time clearly shows an increase with age signifying decreasing respiratory epithelium function. This study highlights an important cause of impaired respiratory health in older individuals and emphasises the need for preventive measures to be put in place.