Why Do Allergies Cause Snoring?
- Posted on: Mar 31 2018
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Has your bed partner ever said “you really snored last night”. Seems like it’s usually not a problem unless your allergies are flared up. You may recognize that allergies and the associated congestion can tip you in to snoring but may not know why this happens and how best to manage it.
The physics of snoring
Snoring is predominately caused by nasal issues. When the nose is congested it means that the cross-sectional diameter of the nasal airway is constricted. Breathing in air through this constricted nasal airway causes the airflow to increase in velocity and turbulence, just like water exiting a hose with your thumb on the end. This is the Bernoulli principle of physics.
Rapid and turbulent air reaches the back of the nose and when it wraps around the corner in to the back of the throat it beats the soft palate and uvula like a sheet in the wind creating noise.
Let’s review the main causes of nasal congestion with allergies:
- Turbinate swelling: The turbinates are the structures in your nose that filter and warm the air. They become very swollen with allergy reactions narrowing the airway.
- Septal swelling: The septum is the divider between the left and right nasal airway. There are septal swell bodies just like turbinates that become swollen with allergy and this constricts the airway.
- Nasal polyps: Longstanding allergy issues can create benign growths in the nasal airway called nasal polyps. They fill the airway and constrict the airflow.
- Sinus infection: Allergies can cause the sinus outflow tracts to swell closed and cause sinus infection. This will further increase swelling of the turbinates, septum, as well as the sinus outflow area. The sinus outflow area is where 50% of the airflow normally goes and it is further narrowed. Sinus infection also thickens the sinus and nasal secretions. Anytime the secretions in the back of the throat are thicker and stickier it will increase the noise made when the soft palate vibrates.
- Allergy medication: Most allergy medications such as antihistamines and decongestants dry out the nose also creating a stickier and louder vibration of the soft palate.
- Mouth breathing: The nasal congestion with allergies can increase an open mouth posture while sleeping. This allows the jaw and the base of the tongue to fall further back into the throat enhancing the contact with the soft palate while it vibrates.
How can you prevent your allergy induced snoring?
As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
- Step 1 is to come in for allergy testing. In our office the skin testing is needle free and painless. When you know what creates your allergies you can try to avoid contact during peak times. Running on the treadmill instead of outside when the mold counts are high is a perfect example.
- Step 2 is to be “immunized” against your allergy. We formulate allergy drops for our patients based on the skin test results and the patient’s history. Taking these natural allergy drops under the tongue daily at home teaches the body to make antibodies to literally block the allergy. Usually by 6 months of allergy drop therapy the patient is symptom free and by 3 years they may be able to stop the drops and still keep the benefit.
- Step 3 is to make sure there are no structural issues. All of the best allergy management in the world won’t help if there is a chronic underlying sinus infection, septal deviation, nasal polyps, or other issues. It is critical to be seen by a board certified ENT doctor and have a miniCT scan of the nose and sinuses before starting on allergy drop therapy. Dr. Slaughter personally sees all the new patients himself and reviews the miniCT and options for therapy.
Schedule a Consultation
If allergies are robbing you of a good night sleep and bothering your bed partner, come in for a consultation now and sleep better tonight.
I would just like to acknowledge how fantastic Doctor Slaughter is and his lovely staff. My son and I have suffered so badly with allergies. iIt took the Dr. one visit to realize what was wrong with me and why I suffered with allergies and couldn’t breath for most of my 41 year old life and he fixed it the next visit with balloon sinoplasty and correction of a deviated septum. My son who suffered from chronic sinusitus to the point he almost had an abrasion go up to his brain. He was treated for it by the children’s hospital and still needed revision is doing fantastic. I have finally found someone personable and competent. I can breath for the first time in my life. I’m so happy and it was painless during and after recovery time. Thanks😊
Comment by Alicia Santiago on April 6, 2018 at 8:09 pm
Allergies/snoring: I snore so loud that my wife moved out of the room to another room because of this issue .ive bought many devices to stop the noise but all to no avail. Is there any solution to my problem? eachtime I woke up, I would notice mucus coming out of my throat. I had sinus infection some many years ago and i don’t know should be the cause of this .
Comment by Oluwatuyi Niyi on February 18, 2020 at 4:16 pm