Why Your Sinusitis, Snoring, and Sleep Apnea Could Be Related

There’s nothing worse than a poor night’s sleep. If your sleep difficulties are caused by breathing difficulties, you and your bed partner are likely to both wake up unrested. In fact, 30 percent of participants say their sweetie’s snoring causes them to routinely sleep in a separate room, according to one UK Study.

Beyond its threats to your relationship, snoring can also be signaling more serious health conditions like sinusitis and obstructive sleep apnea.

To educate you about how sinusitis is linked to sleep apnea and snoring, we sat down with Los Angeles-based ENT Dr. Kayem. 

How is sinusitis different from sleep apnea?

To get a baseline, let’s review the diagnostic criteria for both types of sinus sleep problems. 

Sinusitis, a type of inflammation that affects the sinus cavities, is also known by its more common name: sinus infection. It occurs when the tiny hairs of the mucus lined system called cilia can no longer properly filter pollen, dust, and bacteria through the nasal cavity (a process that usually occurs in full once about every 10 minutes). As the mucus builds and is prevented from draining, the pressure and inflammation can lead to infection. 

You can usually recognize signs of a sinus infection (sinusitis) by:

  • Pressure in your face, specifically behind your eyes, forehead and cheeks
  • Loss of energy or fatigue 
  • Headaches
  • Discolored mucus
  • Fever
  • Pain behind your ears or in your teeth 

Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is more a sleep disorder than an illness. Recognizable by disrupted or paused breathing while sleeping, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can deprive your brain of oxygen and ultimately impact your circulatory system, stroke, kidney disease, cancer, and even dementia. 

Signs you may be experiencing sleep apnea during the night include: 

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Dry mouth or headache upon waking
  • Decreased libido and/or sexual dysfunction
  • Attention, concentration, and memory issues
  • Waking up often to urinate
  • Irritability and unexplained mood swings

Is surgery or treatment right for your sinusitis, snoring, and sleep apnea?

Both sinusitis and sleep apnea can lead to snoring, but are often left untreated, leading to complicating health concerns. 

Instead of overlooking the issue or assuming it’s benign, it is best to schedule a consultation from a qualified ENT doctor. They can evaluate the severity of your condition and recommend nasal congestion and sleep apnea treatments to help you sleep uninterrupted and live better.

If surgery is required, the most common different types of procedures are: 

  • Surgery to repair a deviated septum
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery or balloon sinuplasty
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) 3 P’s
  • Hyoid suspension

Other, less invasive, snoring treatments include:

  • Radio frequency (RF) treatments for the soft issues in your nose and mouth
  • Elevoplasty to lift the soft palate.
  • Pillar Procedure to remove obstruction from the airways. 
  • Polyp removal via medication, endoscopic surgery, or balloon sinuplasty.
  • The SnorEX office procedure, to stiffen the palate and reduce snoring. This is being developed by Dr. Kayem, and is a new, cutting-edge, option to help with snoring.

Remember that all three sleep ailments can be caused by anatomical issues, which can only be resolved with ENT intervention instead of medications or over the counter options. The only way to know If that’s the case is to have an experienced ear, nose, and throat doctor examine you.

Sinusitis Sleep Apnea FAQs:

If left untreated, you are far more likely to develop sleep apnea from chronic sinus issues and nasal congestion, a serious condition that can lead to long-term, irreversible health issues like heart disease, cancer and dementia.

Medication is usually effective at clearing up symptoms from a cold before they can turn into sleep apnea. If the infection worsens or morphs into a chronic untreated sinus infection, however, the chances of developing sleep apnea greatly increase.

Typically it’s the other way around. But if your snoring is caused by sinusitis, then yes, it can absolutely cause sinus issues over the long run.
Does clearing sinuses help with snoring? That depends on the cause of your snoring. If it’s an anatomical issue, like narrowing of passages, or polyps, you’ll need an ENT to help with removal.

If you won’t seek help for your sleep apnea or sinusitis snoring for yourself, do it for your bed partner. Can you imagine how concerning it to hear your loved one gasping for breath in the middle of the night? With minimal discomfort and downtime, Sinus and Snore can craft a treatment plan that’s easy, and right for you.