Many sinusitis sufferers go through their waking life struggling to breathe through their noses. The congestion and swelling in the nasal passages and paranasal sinuses1 make it difficult for air to pass through, which can be uncomfortable. It can also force them to breathe through the mouth in order to get enough air.
But sinusitis doesn’t just affect people during the day. At nighttime too, sinusitis can cause sufferers—and their partners—to lose sleep.
According to the American Rhinologic Society (ARS),2 while you’re asleep, your reflex is to breathe through your nose. But just like during the day, the sinus inflammation and swelling caused by sinusitis can force you to breathe through your mouth instead.
People with sleep apnea are often tired after a full night’s sleep, have headaches upon waking, and experience excessive daytime fatigue. Sleep apnea can have longer-term consequences, as well, including:
- higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease
- higher blood pressure
- higher risk of stroke, diabetes, and depression
- weight gain and obesity
- higher risk of congestive heart failure3
If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, consult with your physician for possible referral to a sleep specialist for full evaluation.
How to treat sinusitis-related snoring
If snoring is caused by sinusitis, then treating the underlying condition may reduce snoring symptoms. Chronic sinusitis is usually treated by an ENT (ear, nose, throat) physician and some ENTs even specialize in treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.
The American Rhinologic Society advocates a better-safe-than-sorry approach, along with tracking symptoms:
If you suffer from nasal congestion, snoring, or suspect sleep apnea, contact your local Otolaryngology specialist. Considering the complexity of the upper airway, it is important to keep track of your symptoms and to write down what makes your symptoms better or worse. This may help your physician in choosing the right treatment for you.2
When it turns out that a patient does have sleep apnea, if the condition is mild, lifestyle changes (losing weight, sleeping on the side rather than the back) are the first thing doctors usually recommend.3 Other medical interventions are then considered if the condition continues.3
To recap: sinusitis leads to swelling in the nose, which can force you to breathe through your mouth. Mouth-breathing during sleep can cause snoring, which may also indicate more serious problems if it’s severe enough. The consequences are potentially serious and ENT physicians are available to assist those who are concerned about their symptoms.