There are numerous reasons why people snore, but is there a link between sinus and snoring? Many of these are based on certain lifestyle choices, and things like being overweight, smoking cigarettes or vaping, excessive alcohol intake, and sleeping position can directly cause or exacerbate snoring.
Snoring can, however, also be a medical issue. For some people, for example, it is caused by obstructive sleep apnoea. Others may snore due to atypical or abnormal orofacial anatomy, such as enlarged tonsils, an oversized tongue, or a floppy uvula. And some people snore as a result of issues with their sinuses.
What are the Sinuses?
The sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull. Scientists are unsure of their exact function, though it may be to humidify and filter air. They also likely play a role in amplifying the human voice.
There are four sinuses located bilaterally in the face:
|Maxillary||In the cheekbones, are the largest sinuses|
|Frontal||Low in the centre of the forehead|
|Ethmoid||Between the eyes|
|Sphenoid||Behind the nose|
These hollow cavities are lined with mucosa, a soft, pink tissue similar to what is in the nose, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and female reproductive tract. Normal, healthy sinuses contain only a thin layer of mucous; they are otherwise empty.
Furthermore, the inside of the nose contains turbinates, which are ridges of tissue that humidify the air we breathe.
The nostrils are separated by a thin bony wall called the septum.
The sinuses generally drain into the nose.
What is “Sinus”?
The term “sinus” used in this way is a colloquial term for sinus infection, inflammation, irritation, or another issue causing symptoms.
Common sinus conditions include:
- Acute sinusitis (infection) – can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that infect and inflame the sinus cavity. It leads to excess mucous production, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip (mucous running into the back of the throat), and pain or discomfort in the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes. Headache and fatigue are very common symptoms, and, in some cases, fever can also occur.
- Chronic sinusitis (infection) – characterised by ongoing (eight weeks or longer) or recurring infections and/or inflammation of the sinuses/nasal cavity.
- Allergic rhinitis (allergies/Hay fever) – caused by pollens, pet dander, dust mites, and other allergens. The body’s defence mechanisms in the sinuses go into overdrive to prevent the allergen from further entering the body. Symptoms include sneezing, itching, nasal stuffiness, mild headache, and excess mucous production.
- Nasal polyps – small, usually benign (non-cancerous) growths in the nasal cavity. They can develop over time in response to chronic inflammation from nasal allergies, chronic sinusitis, or asthma.
- Deviated septum – can be congenital (born with it) or occur as a result of an injury (e.g. broken nose). It can block one side of the nose, entirely in some cases.
- Enlarged turbinates – can block normal airflow in the nasal airways.
How Does Sinus Affect Snoring?
What is the link between sinus and snoring?
A stuffy nose is a frequent cause of disrupted sleep – simply because it makes it more difficult to breathe. A blocked nose and/or sinuses prevent smooth nasal breathing, forcing the person to breathe through the mouth. This easily leads to snoring.
Sinus inflammation and infection can also cause a postnasal drip – the unpleasant effect of having mucous draining into the throat. This irritates the airways, causing swelling and further exacerbating snoring.
Medical scientists have identified definite links between sinus issues and snoring, and between sinus issues and sleep apnoea. Poor quality sleep and daytime fatigue are common in people who experience sinusitis.
While nasal and sinus issues are common contributors to snoring and sleep apnoea, they are often not treated.
When to Seek Help…
If snoring has become an issue for you, or if you are experiencing disturbed sleep and its consequences, it’s time to seek medical help. Moreover, if you have sinus issues, they are likely causing more symptoms than just snoring and should be addressed for your overall health and quality of life.
Strategies to alleviate sinus-related snoring:
- Follow recommendations for sleep hygiene and anti-snoring lifestyle modifications. These include sleeping on your side and using a humidifier while you sleep. A hot shower before bedtime is also helpful to open the nasal passages.
- Sleep with your head elevated to promote natural sinus drainage and minimise the change of excessive blood flow to the sinuses (this can lead to congestion).
- Use a menthol rub on your chest at bedtime to help keep your nasal passages clear.
- Treat bacterial sinusitis with appropriate antibiotics. Viruses do not respond to antibiotic treatment, and these medicines should never be used for a viral infection. See your GP for appropriate treatment.
- Treat allergies appropriately – remove pets from bedrooms, use antihistamines and nasal saline or prescription steroid sprays/rinses.
- Nasal washes (e.g. NetiPot) can help clear mucous from the sinuses and nasal cavity.
- Decongestant medications constrict the blood vessels in the nasal cavity to minimise mucous, congestion, and swelling.
- Quit smoking and avoid passive exposure to cigarette smoke.
- Avoid consuming sedatives or alcohol before bed. These depress the central nervous system; muscles relax too much and snoring occurs.
- Nasal strips for snoring may help some people.
- A mandibular advancement device can help open the airways to promote smoother mouth breathing at night.
- Surgery to stop snoring may be warranted in some cases. This may include (often minimally invasive) surgery to remove chronically enlarged adenoids (usually in children); repair a deviated septum or remove nasal polyps; sinus “scraping” surgery to remove diseased or excess tissue that blocks the sinuses; turbinate reduction surgery may occasionally be recommended.
Minimise or Eliminate Snoring with SnoreMD
If you have sinus issues, it is quite likely that your nasal breathing is compromised, especially while you are asleep. This can result in nasal snoring and/or mouth breathing. Mouth breathing itself can often cause snoring – and this type of snoring is generally much more disruptive to sleep than nasal snoring is.
If you are an adult, SnoreMD can help.
SnoreMD is a world-class anti-snoring device. Its unique adjustability feature helps to open the airways for clearer, smoother breathing, preventing the airway tissue vibration that causes snoring.