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Sinusitis and Sleep Apnea

What happens when you have both sinusitis and sleep apnea or even chronic sinusitis and sleep apnea? Learn more about how these two conditions interact and the kinds of sinus sleep problems they can cause.

Causes of sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (also spelled apnoea) occurs when a person’s breathing frequently pauses during their sleep. This pause during breathing often wakes up the patient with sleep apnea (even if the patient doesn’t remember being woken up) resulting in an unrestful night of sleep.

Sleep apnea and snoring are often conflated. The two sleep disorders result from very similar causes, and snoring is the main symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. However, with sleep apnea, the patient stops breathing altogether (something that doesn't happen with just snoring).

This phenomenon occurs because the sleeper’s throat muscles have either collapsed too much or are obstructed by oversized organs. These interruptions can occur as many as 30 times during just one hour of sleep.

Can sleep apnea be caused by congestion? In fact, congestion is the main link between chronic sinusitis and sleep apnea. The following additional conditions can contribute to your sinus problems and snoring and can increase the severity of your snoring and sleep apnea:

  • Sinusitis
  • Humidity
  • Allergies
  • Sinus obstructions (such as nasal polyps)
  • Deviated septum/enlarged turbinates
  • Alcohol and smoking
  • Obesity

Another type of sinus obstruction (besides sinusitis and nasal polyps) is the swelling of the inferior turbinate. This condition is frequently treated with inferior turbinate reduction surgery.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

Sleeping symptoms are very similar to snoring symptoms. Keep in mind that while individuals with sleep apnea snore, not all individuals who snore have sleep apnea.

  • Loud snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Sore throat upon awakening
  • Headaches upon awakening
  • Depression
  • Choking, gasping, or pauses in breathing during sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Getting up frequently to urinate during the night
  • Increased likelihood of heart disease and stroke

People who struggle with both sinusitis and sleep apnea are very likely to have sinus sleep problems, problems that extend beyond chronic sinusitis fatigue. The sleep time of a sleep apnea patient’s bed partner is often disturbed, too, and sleep partners may share some of the same symptoms.

Sinusitis and sleep apnea treatment with balloon sinuplasty

One of the newest and most effective sleep apnea and sinus snoring treatments is balloon sinuplasty. During the balloon sinuplasty procedure, a physician inserts a small, partially-inflated balloon and a saline solution into your sinuses. This procedure should open up your obstructed sinus passageways.

Once healthy drainage has been restored, you should be able to breathe through your nose again, which significantly lessens the likelihood of snoring and sleep apnea. If balloon sinuplasty isn’t the best treatment for you, a different chronic sinusitis surgery procedure will likely be available.

If you think you may have undiagnosed chronic sinusitis and sleep apnea, it may be useful to participate in a sleep study. In these studies, you are monitored during sleep to diagnose whether or not you have a sleep disorder, as well as to establish the severity of that disorder.

Don’t let chronic sinusitis and sleep apnea ruin another night’s sleep!

If you think you’re having breathing difficulty during the night, or if a partner has said that you wake up choking and gasping, it could be time to consider balloon sinuplasty. Don’t ignore potential sinusitis and sleep apnea — the complications of sleep apnea and chronic snoring (like heart disease and depression) are no laughing matter.

Dr. Bequer, a leading West Palm Beach and Tampa sinus doctor, is one of Florida’s premier balloon sinuplasty physicians. Stop sleep apnea in its tracks by calling Sinus Solutions of South Florida at 561-790-7744
to request a consultation today.

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