There are so many reasons why you may snore, but what’s the link between sinus and snoring? Snoring could be due to certain lifestyle choices. You may be overweight. You may be a cigarette smoker or a vaper. Your sleeping position, or alcohol or caffeine intake could also be to blame. You may just be genetically predisposed to snoring.
Your snoring could also be a medical issue. It could be caused by obstructive sleep apnoea. You may have “abnormal” anatomy in your airways, for example, a prominent tongue, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or a floppy uvula.
For some people, snoring is directly linked to their sinuses.
Air-filled cavities in the front of the skull, the paranasal sinuses are believed to help humidify and filter air, as well as help amplify the human voice.
We each have four sinuses located bilaterally in the face:
|The largest sinuses, located in the cheeks
|Located in the centre of the forehead near the brows
|Between the eyes in the upper part of the nose
|Behind the nose and between the eyes
The sinuses are lined with soft mucosal tissue similar to what is in the nose, mouth, and other parts of the body. Other than a thin layer of mucous, a healthy sinus is empty of everything but air. (The inside of the nasal cavity also contains ridges of tissue called turbinates, which help humidify the air we breathe). The sinuses usually drain into the nostrils, which are separated by the septum, which is a very thin bony wall.
What are “Sinus Issues”?
“Sinus issues” refers to irritation, inflammation, or infection affecting one or more of the sinuses.
- Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses. It may be acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungal infections. This can cause inflammation, excessive mucous production, swelling, sinus blockage, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip (the very unpleasant sensation of mucous draining into the back of the throat), and heaviness and pain in the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes. Earache can also occur, and fatigue is very common. For bacterial infections, in particular, fever can spike. Chronic sinusitis is an ongoing or recurring infection or inflammation over eight weeks or longer.
- Hay Fever or allergic rhinitis is caused by pollens, dust mites, pet dander, pollution, and other allergens. The body’s immune response in the sinuses goes into overdrive and causes inflammation and excess mucous production. Symptoms may include sneezing, itchy eyes, nasal stuffiness, mild headache, fatigue, and heaviness in the face.
- Nasal polyps are small soft tissue growths in the nasal cavity. They are almost always benign (not cancerous) and can develop over a long time as a result of chronic inflammation by allergies, sinusitis, or asthma.
- A deviated septum occurs when the thin bony wall between the nasal passages is displaced to one side. Some people are born with it, but it is mostly caused by an injury to the face (e.g., contact sports, motor vehicle accidents, falls). It makes one nasal passage smaller, blocking or reducing airflow, causing nose bleeds, and increasing infection risk.
- Enlarged turbinates may also block normal nasal breathing capability.
The Link Between Sinus and Snoring
Having a stuffy nose can certainly disrupt a good night’s sleep by preventing smooth nasal breathing. This forces one to breathe through the mouth, which easily results in snoring. Furthermore, postnasal drip resulting from sinus inflammation or infection irritates the airways and makes snoring worse.
There are definite links between sinus inflammation and snoring, as well as sinus issues and sleep apnoea. People with sinusitis are also known to experience fatigue from poor-quality sleep.
What to Do About It?
Is snoring an issue for you?
Habitual snoring, disturbed sleep, and sinus issues are signs you should see your doctor. Doing so can only benefit your overall health and well-being.
Tips to alleviate sinus-related snoring:
- Try having a hot shower or bath before bed, sleeping on your side, and using a humidifier while you sleep. These may help open your nasal passages.
- Sleep with your head elevated on a large pillow or two to help your sinuses drain properly and naturally. It will also help prevent excessive blood flow to the sinuses while you sleep.
- Use a menthol rub (e.g., Vicks) on your chest at bedtime, or a few drops of eucalyptus oil on your pillow to help keep your nasal passages clear.
- Treat proven bacterial sinusitis with antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t use antibiotics for viral infections. See your GP for appropriate treatment.
- Treat allergies – keep pets out of your bedroom, and use nasal saline sprays, antihistamines, or prescription steroid sprays/rinses per medical directions.
- Nasal saline washes can help clear mucous and allergens from the sinuses and nasal cavities.
- Decongestant medications can help by constricting the blood vessels in the nasal cavity. This helps minimise congestion and swelling.
- Quit smoking!
- Avoid consuming alcohol or taking sedatives before bed. These depress the central nervous system, and when your muscles relax too much snoring is more likely.
- Nasal strips may help some people.
- A snoring mouth guard can help open the airways to promote smoother mouth breathing at night.
- You may be medically advised to have surgery – for example, removal of chronically enlarged adenoids or tonsils (usually in children), septum repair, turbinate reduction, polyp removal, or similar.
Compromised nasal breathing is often caused by sinus issues. This will usually lead to nasal snoring and/or mouth breathing, which can often be a direct cause of snoring. Oral-based snoring is much more disruptive and hazardous than nasal snoring.
The NZ brand of a world-class mouthguard to stop snoring, ApneaRx boasts a unique adjustability feature that allows users to not only set their comfort level but also optimize their airway for smoother breathing.