Hard to breathe through nose at night

You can have a deviated septum for a number of reasons, she says.

“If you’ve broken your nose or had any sort of trauma to the face, you can develop a deviated septum,” she says. “In many cases, people don’t even know they’ve broken their nose or had a serious enough injury. But it can also happen from birth — just from the pressure of the birth canal. The cartilage may grow in a crooked manner.”

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5 signs you have a deviated septum

There are several problems you can experience if you have a deviated septum. It can cause other conditions or make certain illnesses worse. Here are the five most common issues:

  1. Difficulty breathing — Nasal misalignment makes it harder for air to pass through one half of your nose, so it’s more difficult for you to breathe. This problem often comes to light when you have a cold or allergies, Dr. Osborne says.
  2. Nasal congestion/headaches — Because air doesn’t always flow freely through your nasal passages, your head can sometimes feel stuffy. That built-up pressure can lead to occasional headaches. The extra pressure in your sinuses can also make your face feel sore and painful.
  3. Nosebleeds — When you have a curved septum, air has a harder time passing through your nose. This makes it more likely to dry out the membranes in your nose. This lack of moisture makes you more susceptible to nosebleeds.
  4. Sinus infections — The more clogged your airway is, the more likely you are to develop frequent sinus infections.
  5. Snoring/disrupted sleep — When you sleep, nasal congestion from a deviated septum can lead to loud breathing and snoring. If you’re having trouble breathing, you may have a hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep. In some cases, a deviated septum can contribute to sleep apnea, a potentially serious condition where breathing stops during sleep.

Getting it fixed

Whether you’ve had your deviated septum from birth or developed one after a face or nose injury, your doctor likely can diagnose the problem with a physical exam.

A nasal steroid spray can sometimes correct the issue, Dr. Osborne says. If not, you may need surgery to straighten the septum. (It’s typically an outpatient procedure.)

If snoring is your main issue, there may be an even simpler fix. “In some cases, sleeping with the head of the bed elevated can help alleviate some snoring,” she says.

It’s a good idea to consult with your doctor if you suspect you have a deviated septum. Even if you end up needing surgery to correct the problem, it’s worth it. Once your nose heals, it will no longer work against you when you take a deep breath. And you may leave a whole host of other problems behind as well.

Sleeping Well With Sinus Problems

Sleeping well can seem impossible if you’re dealing with an ear, nose, or throat problem — you need a healthy nasal airway to breathe soundly through the night.

“Sinus infection, allergies, and other causes of nasal obstruction can make breathing difficult at night,” says Samer Fakhri, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. “Anything that causes you to breathe through your mouth prevents your nose from warming, filtering, and moistening the air you breathe and can result in a high level of sleep disturbance.”

In addition, breathing through your mouth (instead of your nose) can result in more problems.”Breathing through your nose is less work because there is more resistance breathing through your mouth,” says Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, MD, chairman of the ENT department at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “When you breathe through your mouth at night, your jaw and tongue can fall back and block your airway, causing increased likelihood of sleep apnea and snoring.”

Three common ENT problems that affect sleep are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea interferes with sleep and causes daytime sleepiness. In extreme cases, it can also cause high blood pressure and heart problems. “Sleep apnea is caused by collapse of the airway at night,” says Dr. Fakhri. “This results in a low oxygen level that triggers arousal from sleep.” Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring and periods of “apnea,” or the absence of breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea, a serious medical condition that affects about 12 million Americans, is more common if you are overweight and over age 65. Many people with obstructive sleep apnea are not aware of its dangers.
  • Mucosal obstruction. Nasal allergies, sinus infections, and the common cold can all cause the linings of your nose and sinuses to swell and make breathing at night difficult. Your nose and sinuses also will react to irritation or infection by producing more mucus, which can cause sinus pain, pressure, and postnasal drip — all making for an uncomfortable night.
  • Anatomical obstruction. Adults who are overweight may have trouble breathing at night because they have broad necks. Children may have trouble due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Some people may have an overly long soft palate or uvula that can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea. Deformities of the bony structure of the nose, such as a deviated nasal septum, and nasal polyps are other examples of ENT airway obstructions that can interfere with sleep.

Have You Scheduled Your ENT Exam?

“The average adult needs seven hours of sleep a night. Less than six hours leads to a lower metabolic rate and an increased likelihood of weight gain,” warns Dr. Yaremchuk.

If you are having ENT-related sleep disturbances, the first place to start is with an ENT exam — one that checks out your nose, mouth, palate, and throat.

Says Fakhri, “The most important thing you need to do is to address the underlying cause of sleep issues. “ In addition to doing a thorough ENT exam, your doctor may order allergy testing and a sleep study. It’s important to distinguish between sleep issues that are affecting your quality of life and those that are medically dangerous. “Obstructive sleep apnea, for instance, can interrupt sleep more than 40 times per hour and can be a very serious health issue,” says Fakhri.

Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Once you have addressed the medical issues — allergies, a sinus infection, sleep apnea, or an anatomic abnormality — there are certain things you can do to get a better night’s sleep on your own:

  • Cut down on allergy exposures. “That means keeping pets out of your bedroom, using an air filter, removing dust mites from sheets and bedding by using plastic pillow and mattress covers, and washing sheets and bedding frequently in hot water,” Fakhri says.
  • Keep your bedroom dark. Also, there should be no disturbances, such as TV, music, computers, or pets. “All those things can prevent you from uninterrupted sleep,” Yaremchuk says. She also recommends sleeping on your side instead of on your back.
  • Keep your bedroom between 68 and 70 degrees. Fakhri advises that this is the best temperature for sleep.
  • Make certain lifestyle adjustments. These may include keeping more regular sleep hours, staying active, and losing weight if necessary. Also avoid sleep aids, alcohol before bedtime, heavy meals at night, and caffeine later in the day.

Not getting a good night’s sleep is an issue that can affect your quality of life, but it can also be a warning sign of a serious medical condition. If you think you may have ENT-related sleep problems, start by getting an ENT examination.

I can’t breathe properly at night and… – British Lung Foun…

Hi,

I’ve had the same problem for the last 3 days and sleep by 30 min interval. Only last night i realized what was going on.

If you don’t want to read my whole story about my different failed attempt to resolve this, just skip to the last paragraph.

In sum, i got Pneumonia and my nose is filled with mucus all the time. I go thru a whole box of tissue a day to blow it all out. 3 days ago, i couldn’t sleep anymore since i was breathing thru my mouth (nose stuffed), as soon as i start breathing thru my mouth, I could feel the whole air track being very very dry, which awakens me since the throat / tongue sends a sharp pain when it “tries” to rehumidify (swallow motion, but no saliva). When i wake up, i drink some water (painful) but it rehydrathes my mouth / air track. Yet, the whole thing happens again as soon as I start breathing with my mouth again. The following is what i tried to resolve the problem:

Added humidifier to my room and blows over my face: didn’t help at all

-Took Cepacol (lozenge that numbs the throat); Kinda of works for 30 min as it force production of saliva and i feel less my throat, but after 30 ish minutes its the same again. I cannot take ten of these per night… My tongue feels really irritated.

-Drink juice / 7up: helps a bit, as it seems to stay a little bit longer than water in my throat, probably messing up my teeths though…

-Breathing directly from the humidifier: It works! breathing very humid air keeps my air track humid. Tried for many hours… then Read on it and it would appear doing this is very dangerous, as water droplets enters your lungs, then this could cause serious infections. I really don’t need another infection at the moment…

-Took some cough syrup: Kinda works, if you don’t rince your mouth with water: basically there’s a layer inside the air track that seems to stay and doesn’t dry when you breath.

-I was thinking about gulping a spoon of Olive oil: Didn’t try it. was just an idea.

After all that, i though if i could get my nose to clear, then all this could be prevented, I tried:

-Hydrasense (salty water spray in nose): really didn’t do much

-Otrivin (decongestion spray): Works for some times, but as soon as the mucus builds up, its blocked again

-Steroid spray (prescribed by doctor when i explained my situation): its like a stronger version of Otrivin, but as soon as mucus builds up, specially when i lay down, its blocked again

-Breath Right Strips: Helps a bit as it makes the nose cavity bigger, but when too much mucus builds up, its blocked again.

-Secaris nose gel: I tried to clean my nose, then apply a layer of nose gel: Its keeps the nose moist, but does not help for the blockage

-Shower / Bowl of hot water + cloth to cover and breath: It does work, but as soon as i lay down, its starts to block

-Tilting my head back and try sleeping sitting in 45 degree angle: it works, the mucus seems to go the other way (down the throat) and its not blocked anymore. Hard to sleep though. Furthermore, i realized that my nose and the air track is very dry again… Hence, instead of mouth + air track dry, i get nose + air track dry… Meaning unblocking my nose does not solve the problem…

Finally on the forth day, i was so tired and lazy i just stop blowing my nose… and then it hit me: Its the fact that I’ve been blowing constantly my nose to get the all mucus out + tried to spit out all “slimy” saliva out of my mouth, and the constant drinking of water, caused my air track to be VERY SQUEAKY CLEAN. That was why the air track was getting dried up so fast. So people: Stop blowing constantly your nose / spit out all slimy saliva from mouth, and it wont dry out as fast anymore… Its a good thing to get a bit of mucus going down the throat…

I hope it will help someone, as forums / internet has always been a source of knowledge for me in time of illness.

What Is The Connection Between Sinusitis and Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea and sinusitis are both health conditions that reduce your quality of sleep. While Obstructive Sleep Apnea blocks the throat, sinus inflammation blocks the nasal passages. The result of either condition is an inability to get a good night’s sleep. When this happens on a regular basis, it leads to chronic sleep loss and fatigue.

Chronic sleep loss leads to a whole host of health problems from high blood pressure to diabetes. If you think you are suffering from Sleep Apnea or sinusitis or both, start by learning more about the connection between these medical conditions.

What is Sinusitis

Sinusitis is caused by swelling and inflammation in the nasal cavities. The nasal cavities, also known as sinuses, are located in two areas of the face. This includes the forehead just above the area between the eyebrows, as well as under the eyes in each cheek. The sinus cavity is surrounded by bone, lined with fine hairs called cilia that work like brooms, and are filled air.

According to Cedars-Sinai, the purpose of the sinuses is to lighten the weight of our skulls and give our voices a boost. However, sinuses are most beneficial for producing mucus. This mucus is used as a protectant for the nasal cavities.

Each time you inhale through the nose, this mucus and cilia work together to trap dust, dirt, pollutants, bacteria, and other particles. This stops these particles from entering the body, especially the lungs.

Normally, the sinuses drain every 10 minutes to maintain a clear passage. When you get a cold or suffer from allergies, the nasal passages typically swell up which blocks the flow of the sinuses. However, when you are sick the nasal passages are unable to clean themselves naturally. This leads to a build-up of mucus that contains bacteria.

If this bacteria continues to build up in the nasal passages, it leads to inflammation. Acute sinusitis is the primary condition caused by inflamed nasal passages. If left untreated, this condition becomes chronic sinusitis lasting up to eight weeks. Subsequent nasal congestion will most likely prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. You may also have facial pain and a runny nose along with headaches.

Certain individuals are more likely to contract sinusitis. These include swimmers who swim in polluted water, such as the ocean, as well as smokers or individuals exposed to secondhand smoke. In addition, individuals who are regularly in contact with school-age children are more likely to be exposed to bacteria and colds leading to sinus conditions. By avoiding these circumstances, you decrease your risk of sinusitis.

What is Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder resulting in interrupted sleep caused by breathing problems. When you are diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, your upper airway is blocked when you are asleep.

The blockage can be slight or complete and leave you gasping for air. When this happens, your brain should receive the message to breathe, but instead, you stop breathing while sleeping.

Most of the time, you wake up after not breathing and regain your breathing pattern. However, this disrupts your sleep and causes a lack of reaching the critical deep sleep stage. The result is feeling tired and irritable during the day due to a lack of sleep.

Over time this chronic lack of sleep leads to and is associated with more concerning health problems. These include daytime fogginess and fatigue that makes you feel more irritable and stressed. Over time, chronic stress is consistent with causing high blood pressure, heart attacks, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Sleep Apnea and its associated symptoms are serious health conditions that if left untreated can be fatal.

Is There a Connection Between Sinusitis and Sleep Apnea?

According to a study published in 2016 in Scientific Reports titled “Obstructive Sleep Apnea and the Subsequent Risk of Chronic Rhinosinusitis: A Population-Based Study,” the connection between sinusitis and Sleep Apnea is still not clear. In the study, researchers followed 971 patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, as well as 4,855 patients not diagnosed with OSA, for five years.

The researchers reported fewer than seven percent of patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea was later diagnosed with sinusitis. Among those patients without OSA, two percent also developed sinusitis. The research shows there is no definite correlation that links Sleep Apnea and sinusitis. Just because you are diagnosed with Sleep Apnea does not mean you will automatically develop sinusitis and vice versa.

However, there is a slight increase in the risk that an individual with Sleep Apnea will also have sinusitis. The symptoms of sinusitis are nasal congestion, inflammation in the ear, and sinus pressure.

These all cause an inability to breathe easily while sleeping. As a result, someone who is diagnosed with chronic sinusitis and does not seek treatment is likely to develop Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

With sinusitis, the nasal passages close off and block the airways when the individual is sleeping. This is different from OSA that occurs due to overly relaxed muscles. Sleep Apnea associated with chronic sinusitis can be treated effectively when the patient treats their sinusitis.

Does Nasal Congestion Cause Sleep Apnea?

When you are diagnosed with nasal congestion, you are unable to breathe properly at any time of the day. However, at night you will likely notice that it is more difficult to fall asleep because of stuffed or runny sinuses. This blockage prevents you from staying asleep, just as with sleep apnea. But are Sleep Apnea and sinus infections related, and can you avoid Sleep Apnea by treating sinusitis?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder while sinusitis is a temporary infection. Sinusitis will eventually clear itself or may be treated with antibiotics. Once you have successfully treated sinus problems, you will not suffer from breathing problems at night caused by a sinus infection.

However, if you have chronic or reoccurring sinusitis, this increases your risk of Sleep Apnea caused by nasal congestion. Sleep Apnea, on the other hand, cannot be treated with antibiotics and will not clear up on its own.

Note that there are two types of nasal congestion that can increase your risk factor for OSA:

  • If you have nasal congestion due to an anatomical problem, this can cause a chronic loss of sleep resulting in Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Surgery is the solution in this case.
  • If you have chronic allergies that consistently prevent you from having clear nasal passages, then you may develop Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Allergy treatment can resolve Sleep Apnea symptoms.

To be diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, you will want to get a sleep apnea test from a medical provider or sleep study clinic. Based on your sleep test results, your doctor may likely recommend CPAP machines for treating Sleep Apnea.

Can Sleep Apnea Be Caused by Allergies?

As noted, chronic allergies can lead to Sleep Apnea. However, having allergies does not automatically mean you will be diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. For example, if you suffer from seasonal allergies that last for a few weeks in the spring and fall, then you most likely will not have OSA due to allergies. On the other hand, if you experience chronic allergies throughout the year, this can create long-term breathing issues.

Learn More About Sleep Apnea and Sinusitis

If you would like to learn more about the connection between Sleep Apnea and sinusitis, we have the resources for you. CPAP.com maintains the most comprehensive resource about Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Along with reports on Sleep Apnea and sinus infections, we also discuss the effects of Sleep Apnea on the brain and other exciting news.

CPAP.com was founded in 1999 with the goal of providing affordable equipment for Sleep Apnea sufferers. Today our family owned and operated business has more than 1,000 different products for Sleep Apnea patients. Contact CPAP.com and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news and the most effective treatments for Sleep Apnea.

David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.

He added that patients with sinus problems and nasal breathing problems “should all be evaluated for snoring and sleep apnea.”

The study was published online Sept. 10 in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing for short periods of time throughout the night, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). When people with this condition are asleep, the tongue and other structures can relax a little too much, close off the airway and prevent breathing. Snoring, choking and gasping for air, and daytime fatigue are signs of obstructive sleep apnea, the NIH said.

To find out if patients with both chronic sinus problems and sleep apnea might feel better following sinus surgery, Alt and his colleagues used questionnaires to check outcomes for more than 400 patients who underwent the surgery.

Sixty people also had sleep apnea. Following surgery, the patients had improved on several measures, including psychological and sleep problems, the study found.

Coping with chronic sinusitis

Sinus trouble can hamper breathing, making it tough to sleep. And if you have chronic sinusitis, a common condition the Mayo Clinic says inflames and swells the cavities around your sinuses, you could find yourself tossing and turning all night long.

Inflamed sinuses interfere with drainage, which can cause mucus to build up and make it difficult to breathe through your nose. And when you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, the air isn’t warmed, filtered and moistened, which can disrupt your sleep.

Sinusitis also can make the area around your eyes and face feel swollen, or trigger a throbbing headache or face pain.

Your doctor may prescribe prescription and/or over-the-counter remedies to alleviate inflammation in your sinuses. However, there are plenty of little things you can do at home to create a breathe-better bedroom that’s sinus-friendly. Try out these changes today and start sleeping better tonight:

  • Change your bedsheets weekly. Wash and dry all linens (including the blankets) on your appliances’ hottest temperature setting to get rid of dust and other allergens that may trigger sinus trouble, said Dr. Kevin Ronneberg, associate medical director at Target Corp.
  • Cover mattresses and pillows. Allergy-proof covers made of tightly woven, breathable fabric on the box spring, mattress and all pillows can keep allergens from upsetting your sinuses while you sleep.
  • Don’t dust at night. It can take two hours or more for dust to settle down after being stirred up by cleaning. Save dusting for during the day—especially in the bedroom—to avoid triggering sinus symptoms before you’re trying to get to sleep. And when you do clean, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter at least once a week.
  • Get rid of fluff. Dust and dust mites can trigger inflammation in your sinuses. Clear your bedroom of extra pillows, linens, stuffed animal collections and dust-collecting knickknacks.
  • Check the humidity. Humidity can be soothing to dry sinuses. However, if dust mites and mold bother you more, too much humidity can be problematic as they thrive in moist environments. If your furnace has a humidifier, make sure it’s set at 50 percent humidity or lower. If you use a room or table humidifier, use a hygrometer (available at home supply stores) to monitor the humidity in your bedroom.
  • Sleep with your head elevated. Lying flat allows mucus to build up in your sinuses and clog your nose. If you’re unable to breathe through your nose, try propping yourself up with some pillows to help open up your nasal passages.
  • Drink water in the evening. Staying hydrated can thin out your nasal mucus, which helps it drain and reduce nighttime stuffiness.

We’ve all experienced sinus symptoms that we think are getting better, then when we go to bed all of a sudden our throats hurt, we can’t stop sniffling, and we can’t breathe well again. This is infuriating, it can make it feel like the sinus infection is never going to get better, and it can affect our quality of life (if we can’t sleep well, we can’t function well).

What’s behind this nocturnal nuisance, and what can we do to stop it?

Blood flow means more inflammation

One possibility is that the change in blood flow may increase inflammation.,, When you lie down, blood pressure changes and blood may remain in the upper body longer than it does when you sit or stand. In addition, the pull of gravity on the body’s internal tissues can compress blood vessels in the sinuses. This can cause tissue to swell up, leading to worse sinus symptoms.

We tend to lie down toward the end of the day, particularly when we go to bed. It’s the change in physical position that can contribute to a worse sinus infection at night.

Lying down makes it hard to clear sinuses

When we stand or sit upright, gravity is pulling downward from our sinuses to our esophagus. This means that when mucus drips down the back of the throat, it can go down the esophagus and drain effectively, simply because that’s the way gravity works.

But when we’re lying down, gravity is still pulling toward the ground—which means that it isn’t pulling mucus down the esophagus anymore. Rather, mucus may pool in the back of the throat, irritating the tissue and causing a worse sinus infection.

Fewer distractions means it’s easier to notice symptoms

Another factor might just be distraction—during the day, you’re busy at work or school, taking care of the family and household, and doing all the various things that make up our daily activity. But after dinner, we usually have more of an opportunity to relax, and there are fewer things competing for our attention. Without all these demands, we may suddenly notice that our sinuses aren’t working as they should be. This can give the impression that the condition is worse. This is not to say that it’s “in your head,” or that your symptoms aren’t genuine, and it is definitely not the whole story. It’s just one of several possible explanations.

How to handle the issue

Sleeping with a humidifier near the bed (because dry air can contribute to sinus problems) and taking over-the-counter nighttime decongestants may help with sinus symptoms. However, in the case of a serious infection, they may not completely resolve the problem.

If you have a sinus infection, or any sinus symptoms that are severe or that persist for longer than a couple of weeks, then you may want to see a doctor. They will have the ability to diagnose the problem, recommend a solution, and get you breathing correctly—day and night.

Chronic Sinusitis and Nasal Polyps

Chronic sinusitis with polyps is an inflammation of the sinuses that lasts more than 12 weeks and is associated with nasal polyps. In the Michigan area, and probably in the U.S. in general, this condition accounts for a large portion of the sinus surgery performed.

Chronic Sinusitis Symptoms

In general, as polyps swell or get larger, they start to fill the nose and cause nasal blockage or obstruction, which some patients refer to as “congestion.”

For a person with allergies and polyps, a “bad allergy day” will frequently cause the polyps to swell more and cause more symptoms. Likewise, treating a patient’s allergies will often cause the polyps to shrink somewhat and may give some relief from the blockage.

As polyps get larger, filling 75% to 90% of the nasal cavity, patients really start to complain of nasal obstruction, and this often motivates them to seek medical care.

When polyps fill the entire nose, patients are miserable. They can’t breathe through their nose at all so they breathe through their mouths during the day and at night.

Why Diagnosis is Important

Because patients can’t breathe through their nose, they mouth breathe while sleeping, causing them to snore. Sometimes nasal polyps can make snoring severe enough to tip a patient who snores over to sleep apnea – which has a substantial effect on patients.

Patients with sleep apnea don’t sleep well, and they are at higher risk for other health problems, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and memory and concentration problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a polyp?

Polyps arise when the tissue lining the nose, called mucosa, becomes very inflamed and swollen. The normal mucosa, which is pink, moist, and 1 to 2 millimeters thick, can become swollen with fluids and proteins until it resembles a fluid-filled sac.

Why do polyps form?

Polyps form as a reaction to inflammation or allergy. In addition, patients with an inflammatory disease (not necessarily due to allergies) in the nose and sinuses may have polyps grow in the nose and sinus.

I can’t taste anything very well. Why?

When there are polyps filling about 50% or more of the nose, the air in the nasal cavity is blocked and does not reach the area where the smell nerves are located. When air and odors can’t get to the nerve endings, then a person can’t smell well, or may not smell anything at all – and therefore can’t taste well, either, because much of our sense of taste is related to our sense of smell.

What can be done, before surgery, to reduce or eliminate polyps?

The treatment for polyps depends on what is causing them, so it is very important to get a thorough evaluation of the polyps in order to obtain the best treatment. Before surgery, we may want to try:

  • Steroid Sprays Steroid sprays are prescribed for most types of nasal polyps, particularly mild polyps caused by allergic rhinitis (allergies to cats, dust, molds, pollens, trees, grasses and/or molds). They are also used for patients with medium and large polyps. Steroid sprays are helpful in shrinking polyps or slowing their natural growth.
  • Steroid Pills Steroid pills will cause a dramatic shrinkage of the polyps, but the effect is usually temporary – a few days or a few weeks. While the fluid in the polyp is dramatically reduced, the inflammatory cells and tissue remain; after stopping the steroids, the water returns to the polyps and they often return to their original size, if nothing else is done.

Why Come to Michigan for Treatment?

  • We treat more than 5,000 patients every year.
  • We take a multidisciplinary, step-by-step approach that takes you – as a whole person – into account.
  • If you need us for surgery, know that we perform more than 500 surgeries every year. And, when it comes to surgery, experience counts.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment, please call 734-936-8051.

Why Your Sinus Infection Gets Worse At Night and What You Can Do About It

If you suffer from sinus pain and congestion, you may find that your symptoms worsen at night. This can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep, which in turn can detrimentally impact both overall wellness and quality of life. Here’s a closer look at why sinus infections often flare up in the evening hours, along with tips for addressing the problem.

Your Sinuses and Sleep

A sinus infection, AKA sinusitis, occurs when the tissue lining the sinuses becomes inflamed. Unlike healthy sinuses which are filled with air, infected sinuses are unable to clear and may become blocked. They then become a breeding ground for germs, often resulting in uncomfortable and painful sinus infections. Several conditions are linked with sinus blockage, including the common cold, allergies, nasal polyps and deviated septa.

Millions of Americans suffer from sinusitis with symptoms including facial pain or pressure, a runny or “stuffed up” nose, loss of smell, cough, and congestion. Other symptoms may include fever, bad breath, fatigue and dental pain.

While sinusitis is never pleasant, its symptoms can be worse at night for several reasons. For starters, allergies tend to be worse at night in general. And then there’s the fact that when you lie down, fluids no longer drain as they do when you’re standing or sitting. This can result in increased discomfort.

Manage Your Sinusitis to Sleep Better

The good news? There are some things you can do to alleviate sinus congestion and sleep better, including the following:

  • Taking an antihistamine in bed can help control allergy symptoms, like sneezing and runny nose. Antihistamines can also make you drowsy further helping you to fall asleep. If you use a nasal spray to manage your allergy symptoms during the daytime, it can also be used at night.
  • If your sinusitis is caused by allergens, reducing your exposure can reduce your symptoms. Keep your sleeping space free of all allergens by making it a pet-free zone. Additionally, consider investing in dust-proof bedding to further minimize your exposure to allergens.
  • Congestion occurs when your nasal passages don’t clear. “Mucus pools in your sinuses at night when your head is down, so have your head propped up during sleep,” advise the experts at Harvard Medical School.
  • Not only is it a myth that a nightcap before bed can make you sleepy, but alcohol is also linked with increased congestion. Plus, it can cause dehydration, another factor which can aggravate sinus issues. Refraining from drinking alcohol before bed eliminates both of these issues. The same applies for caffeine, which is a stimulant. The takeaway? Stick with water and decaffeinated beverages in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  • Adopting best practices for sleep hygiene is advisable for everyone, but can be especially helpful for people suffering from sinusitis. Keeping your bedroom cool and dark; maintaining regular sleeping and waking times; reserving your bedroom only for sleep-related activities; and avoiding stressful activities before bed can all support better sleep.

Additionally, several other strategies can help keep sinusitis at bay — day or night.

Despite your best efforts, sinus pain and congestion caused by sinusitis may continue to disrupt your sleep. In this case, it may require more aggressive treatment, such as cutting-edge, minimally invasive balloon sinuplasty. To learn more about your options, schedule an appointment with one of the American Sinus Institute’s Board Certified otolaryngologists today.

Houston ENT and Allergy Blog

Nasal congestion symptoms can be very irritating but the stuffiness, runny nose, headache, sore nostrils, etc. you may experience are just the beginning. Left untreated long-term, it can lead to many negative effects to your physical and mental health.

Here are the top reasons to treat nasal congestion:

Snoring

Snoring can be caused by swollen nasal passages. Since your nasal passages are the smallest part of your airway anatomy, inflammation can cause restriction to your airflow. The decreased airflow can cause turbulence in the back of the throat and lead to vibration of the base of the tongue, soft palate, and/or uvula. Studies have shown that nasal inflammation can increase the occurrence of snoring by up to 300%.

While snoring itself may not be considered dangerous, it can cause people sleeping next to a chronic snorer to lose an hour of sleep per night on average. This can cause irritability, affect blood pressure, and affect concentration… not to mention put stress on the relationship between the chronic snorer and their partner. Also, chronic snoring can cause the soft tissue at the back of the throat to stretch over time and lead to obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is interrupted repeatedly during sleep. Breathing can become too shallow or stop entirely. These interruptions can cause the sleep apnea sufferer to wake up several times during the sleep cycle.

If breathing stops for a substantial amount of time, blood oxygen levels may drop. Not breathing for as little as 30 seconds can cause blood oxygen levels drop from the normal range of 94 to 98 percent to 80 percent or lower. Anything below 90 percent is considered dangerous.

Restless nights and low blood oxygen levels can cause headaches, fatigue, and drowsiness throughout the day. Treating nasal congestion can help maintain airflow through the nasal passages and help with proper breathing.

Athletic Performance

Studies have shown that breathing through the nose during exertion has many benefits. Breathing through the nose slows down the exhalation process and creates back-pressure in the lungs. Both of these facts help with the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream.

The level of carbon dioxide in the blood determines the amount of oxygen that is absorbed into the blood. If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly by mouth breathing vs nose breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased and dizziness or fainting can result due to lack of oxygen.

Healthy nasal passages help to ensure that the proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange occurs which will reduce the urge to breathe through the mouth while exercising. It can also cause us to slow down and avoid overexertion during exercise.

Mouth Breathing

Breathing primarily through the mouth can cause several health concerns. When air is inhaled through the nose, it passes over the mucous membranes and into the sinuses. Nitric oxide, a compound that helps regulate healthy blood flow, healthy blood pressure levels, communication between brain cells, and oxygenation of cells, is produced in the sinuses.

Studies have shown that breathing through your mouth as opposed to your nose can decrease oxygenation of the blood by 10 to 20 percent since the nitric oxide produced in the sinuses isn’t being utilized when air is inhaled through the mouth. Lower levels of oxygen in the bloodstream can lead to fatigue and may cause stress on the heart and lungs as well.

Bad Breath

Nasal congestion can also be the cause of bad breath, or halitosis. If the nasal congestion is caused by a sinus infection, the bacteria present in the nasal cavities may give off a bad odor.

Post-nasal drip may also be the cause of bad breath. Mucus is produced in the sinuses to help moisten moisten the nasal membranes and inhaled air, helps to clear inhaled foreign particles, and helps fight infections by trapping and destroying viruses and bacteria. It generally drains, unnoticed, down the back of the throat. If more mucus is being produced than usual, or the mucus is thicker, it is more noticeable. This is known as post-nasal drip. At this point, microbes and foreign particles are not being cleared properly and may give off an odor.

Dental Health

If mouth breathing is necessary due to congested nasal passages, the mouth dries out, saliva production decreases, and dental health issues may occur. Saliva is very important to dental health. It is responsible for aiding in digestion, neutralizing acid, and washing away bacteria. Without it, chances for cavities and tooth decay increase.

Dry mouth is also a cause for gum disease. Gum disease can not only lead to tooth loss but is also suspected to lead to much more serious health conditions throughout the body. The bacteria that causes gum disease can enter the bloodstream through the gum tissue and affect the heart and lungs. It may also be connected to rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, and stroke.

Memory

Research suggests that breathing through the nose may enhance the memory consolidation process (the process of converting short-term memories to long-term memories). In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, subjects were asked to smell and memorize different odors on two separate occasions. Some of the scents were familiar while others were more obscure.

After one round of exposure, the subjects sat quietly for an hour with their noses clipped shut to prevent nasal breathing. After another round, the subjects’ mouths were taped shut to prevent mouth breathing. During each hour of rest, the brain should have been consolidating the memories of the smells.

After each hour of rest, the subjects were exposed to repeated scents and new scents and asked to determine if they had been exposed to each earlier. The subjects were able to recognize previous scents significantly more readily after the nasal breathing rest period than they were after the mouth breathing rest period.

Anxiety and Depression

When breathing through the mouth, people tend to breathe more shallowly, filling only the upper portion of the lungs. This has been shown to activate the sympathetic nervous system and trigger a “fight or flight” response. Nasal breathing has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and cause the body to enter a more relaxed “rest and digest” state, decreasing anxiety and providing a general sense of calm.

Several studies have shown that deep-breathing through the nose is also an effective, non-pharmacological way to reduce depression as well.

Metabolism

Fat from food is stored in fat cells as a compound called triglyceride. Triglycerides primarily consist of three elements: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. When it is broken down, experiments have shown that about 20% forms water, while about 80% forms carbon dioxide. The water is excreted in urine, feces, as moisture in the breath, tears, sweat, and other bodily fluids. The carbon dioxide is exhaled during respiration.

As mentioned before, breathing through the nose helps to ensure that the the carbon dioxide to oxygen exchange that happens in the lungs maintain optimum efficiency. The more efficient this exchange is, the more metabolized fat is exhaled in each breath.

Where to Get Help for Chronic Nasal Congestion

The reasons in this list are just a few of the many benefits you may experience from healthy sinuses. If you suffer from chronic nasal congestion there are many treatment options available. Call call Houston ENT & Allergy at 281-649-7000 today to schedule a visit and discuss which treatment options may be right for you.

Find an ENT doctor or location near me

Author: Tara Morrison, MD

Stuffy Noses And COPD: What’s The Deal?

Many people with breathing disorders — like COPD — also suffer from medical conditions that may make it hard to breathe through your nose. Here’s all you need to know.

Some statistics on COPD and nasal inflammation

A 2007 study showed that up to 75% of COPDers also suffered from some form of nasal inflammation, and about a third of people diagnosed with sinusitis also had lower airway inflammation, which would be either asthma or COPD. So, there is quite a prevalence of nasal inflammation caused by sinusitis or rhinitis among the COPD community.1

What causes a stuffy nose?

The most common cause in COPD patients is inflammation of the blood vessels in your nose and sinuses. This inflammation may cause symptoms — such as a stuffy nose — resulting in a diagnosis of sinusitis or rhinitis.

Why does COPD cause a stuffy nose?

Most cases of COPD result from long-term exposure to airway irritants, such as chemicals in cigarette smoke or in the air at work. These irritants cause damage to cells and genes resulting in an abnormal immune response that causes inflammation of the lower airway (bronchioles) and lung tissue. This is what causes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD flare-ups may be caused by airway irritants, respiratory viruses, and allergens. That said since your upper airway (nose and sinuses) is exposed to these same irritants, it only makes sense that they may also be affected with inflammation.1-2

What is the purpose of this inflammation?

The purpose of this inflammation is to trap airway irritants (like microscopic particles) and pathogens (like viruses) to keep them out of your lungs. This inflammation irritates goblet cells to make them produce more sputum. Airway irritants or pathogens are balled up inside the sputum and then brought to your upper airway so you can swallow it or spit it up.

Why does nasal inflammation cause a stuffy nose?

The increased sputum in your nasal passages can become dry or thick and clog your nose and sinuses. Along with irritating goblet cells, it also irritates nerve endings in the area. This is what causes that annoying itchy or scratchy feeling in your nose when you suffer from rhinitis or sinusitis.

What is rhinitis or hay fever?

Also commonly referred to as hay fever. It is inflammation of the mucous membrane lining your nasal passages. It can be caused by a normal immune response to respiratory viruses that cause the common cold. In these cases, it’s diagnosed as non-allergic rhinitis. It may also be caused by an abnormal immune response to common allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, mold spores, and animal dander. In these cases, it’s diagnosed as allergic rhinitis. Common symptoms include nasal irritation and sneezing, along with a stuffy and runny nose.

What is the treatment for rhinitis?

The best treatment may be avoidance of allergens and respiratory viruses, although since allergens and viruses are so ubiquitous, they are often hard to avoid. Allergy medicines such as antihistamines, leukotriene antagonists such as Singulair, and nasal sprays that contain corticosteroids are common treatments. Sometimes rinsing your nose with salt water solutions may prove helpful. Your doctor may also have other suggestions, such as desensitization or allergy shots.

What is sinusitis?

It’s nasal inflammation and nasal stuffiness that may result in sinus infections that are usually bacterial in origin. Other symptoms include post nasal drip, trouble breathing through your nose, pain, and loss of the ability to taste or smell things. It can be acute, lasting a short time, such as what might occur with the common cold. It may also be chronic, lasting a long time, such as might occur with allergies, asthma, COPD. They can also be caused by nasal polyps and deviated septums. It may also be associated with rhinitis, in which case it may be called rhinosinusitis.3

How is sinusitis treated?

It can be treated with medicine, such as saline rinses and sprays, nasal steroids, or antibiotics. Treatment may also involve treating the underlying condition, such as allergies, deviated septum, nasal polyps, etc.3

What are nasal anomalies?

There are many different anomalies that can occur inside your sinuses and nasal passages that can cause a stuffy nose, the most common of which are nasal polyps. A common cause of nasal polyps is chronic inflammation, such as that caused by chronic sinusitis. Another one is a deviated septum, where your nasal septum is deviated to one side, making one nasal passage narrow. Airflow may be further obstructed by swelling. Nasal anomalies can either be treated with medicine or surgery. 4-5

How do you get a proper diagnosis and treatment for nasal inflammation?

If you have a diagnosis of COPD, it should be suspected that you also might have or develop at some point nasal inflammation. So, inspecting your nose should be a part of your regular screening at your doctor’s appointments. Your doctor may try to treat you medically. However, if your symptoms persist, you may be referred to a specialty doctor called an otorhinolaryngologist, or an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (ENT).

What are the advantages of nasal breathing?

Derek Cummings, an excellent writer who also has COPD, wrote a nice post on this subject called “Learning To Breathe Right Is The Hardest Of All.” He spells out all the wonderful benefits of breathing properly, meaning through your nose. If you have trouble breathing through your nose, then you have no choice but to breathe through your mouth — it’s the path of least resistance. But, you will also miss out on all the benefits of breathing through your nose.

Stuffy nose is quite treatable

I think a lot of people chalk up stuffy noses as just something they have to deal with, while in reality, it is quite often quite treatable. If you suffer from a stuffy nose, make sure you talk to your COPD doctor about this so that you can get the proper treatment you deserve so you can breathe easier and live better with COPD.

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