• Diurnal variation;
  • exhaled air;
  • gender;
  • nasal nitric oxide;
  • oral nitric oxide;
  • volume flow rate


Nitric oxide (NO) is present in the human nasal airways and has been suggested to originate primarily from the paranasal sinuses. The aim of this study was to establish a new and reproducible method for measurement of nasal NO.

Through repeated single-breath measurements the intra- and inter-individual variations of NO levels in nasally (into a tightly fitting mask covering the nose) and orally exhaled air were determined in healthy humans. Variations due to the methods used were investigated. The contribution of oral NO to the nasal exhalations by introducing a mouthwash procedure was also studied.

This study shows distinct individual values of NO in nasally and orally exhaled air of healthy humans. Some diurnal variability was also found with a rise in NO in nasally and orally exhaled air over the day, but no, or little, day-to-day variability when comparing the results from separate mornings. There was no correlation between NO levels in nasally and orally exhaled air, whereas there was a strong correlation between NO levels in air exhaled through the left and right nostril. The levels of NO in air exhaled at 0.17 L·s-1 through either nostril separately were higher than in air exhaled at the same flow rate through both nostrils simultaneously. After the introduction of a mouthwash procedure the level of NO in orally, but not nasally exhaled air was reduced.

To conclude the method using nasal exhalation into a nose mask is highly reproducible. It is also suggested that subtracting the level of NO in orally exhaled air, after mouthwash, from that in nasally exhaled air, would adequately reflect nasal NO levels.