Man suffering from nasal congestion and lack of sleep

Among the most common symptoms related to nasal congestion, poor sleep is probably not the first that crosses your mind. However, this could be an indication of something more prevalent than just the common cold.

What are common causes for nasal obstruction?

A stuffy nose is one of the most common symptoms of an underlying condition. Beyond seasonal illnesses like the common cold and flu, it can be caused by:

  • Allergies
  • Sinus infections
  • A deviated septum or other structural problems

These conditions can be debilitating in their own right, but they can also lead to a restless night and non-restorative sleep.

How do allergies cause sleep problems?

Allergens like ragweed, pollen, mold, and pet dander can affect your eyes, nose, and throat in a litany of ways based on your tolerance level. From itchy eyes to a runny or congested nose, getting to sleep may be an issue, much less staying asleep in the middle of allergy season. Dust mites are a common allergen affecting sleep in many people.

How do sinus infections cause sleep problems?

A sinus infection often leads to inflammation of the nasal cavity and the sinuses, which can increase sinus pressure, post nasal drip, headaches, and poor nasal breathing, all of which can hamper your ability to a good night’s sleep. Sinus infections can also trigger migraine symptoms that are common in the early morning hours.

How does a deviated septum cause sleep problems?

The septum is a thin layer of cartilage and bone that separates the nasal passages and frequently can deviate to one side or another. This may also be associated with enlarged “turbinates” which are the humidifiers of the nose.

Dr. Joshua Levine, a CEENTA otolaryngologist and sleep specialist at our Blakeney office, describes the connection between nasal congestion and sleep. “Nasal blockage can promote mouth breathing during sleep which may increase airway resistance and snoring. When severe, these problems may be associated with sleep disruption, daytime fatigue, or even sleep apnea.”

How can you treat nasal congestion?

Treating your poor sleep could be as simple as treating the direct cause; in this case, it would be a matter of treating your nasal congestion. If your congestion is caused by allergies, some simple remedies include antihistamines, nasal medications, immunotherapy options (allergy shots, tablets, or sublingual drops), and avoiding the allergens trigger your symptoms. For a sinus infection, your treatment may include antibiotics and steroids. A deviated septum can be treated with nasal surgery to correct its position and ensure balanced nasal breathing. There are other anatomic causes of nasal obstruction including nasal polyps, turbinate hypertrophy, and adenoid enlargement that are diagnosed by the otolaryngologist and may benefit from medical or surgical therapy.

If you are suffering from a lack of sleep due to nasal congestion, the physicians at CEENTA can address the multiple causes with therapy tailored for you. This may include allergy testing and immunotherapy, medical therapy or sometimes surgery. Make an appointment with Dr. Levine at our Blakeney location today to find a solution to your disrupted sleep.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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