Why Do Allergies Cause Snoring?
- Posted on: Mar 31 2018
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.