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Connection between nasal and sinus congestion and insomnia

perchance dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
1,684
I've had nasal congestion and stuffiness all my life as well as insomnia for many years. I also have mild obstructive apnea and wear a dental device (TAP) for that.

I've also had chronic sinus infections for a long time. They cause me a great deal of added nasal congestion. My last sinus infection was staph about 6 weeks ago.

I recently found out that nasal congestion is directly correlated to poor sleep. I had never linked the two. My ENT said the brain is hard wired to want us to breathe freely through the nose, and that when nasal airflow is constricted, it has a bad effect on sleep.

Earlier this year, I had a horrid TMJ flareup and found I need a neuromuscular TMJ device to be worn almost full time for 2 years. However, I can't get that device until I can stop using my TAP. They can't be used at the same time.

So I started thinking about how to improve my apnea to the point where I don't need treatment. One thing that really aggravates apnea is nasal congestion.

I've started sleeping on a foam wedge to elevate my head to see if it would help with nasal congestion. It did help some, but I was surprised that it also helped my sleep.

However, the congestion was still really bad, so I got another sinus CT. It had been several years since I had one. Since I had been working on this for years, I was hoping there was a surgical treatment to help me breathe better.

My turbinates and septum were fine (I've had surgery on them both before), but I did have some physical obstruction in my sinuses. But the big thing my ENT noticed is that my nasal swell bodies were so swollen that it was causing a lot of constriction in airflow.

I had never heard of nasal swell bodies. They are nasal tissue, but different from turbinates and the septum. I think an ENT has to see them on a sinus CT rather than being able to detect them during an office visit.

My doctor said it's only recently that ENTs have paid much attention to nasal swell bodies and how they can restrict airflow when they become extremely engorged. She said she thought reducing mine, in addition to a traditional sinusplasty and a balloon sinusplasty, would really help with my breathing.

Reducing nasal swell bodies can be done in an office visit under local sedation, but I needed the sinus work, also, so I had it done all at the same time. Here's a link about the nasal swell bodies:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lary.25144/pdf

Congestion gets worse while you heal from the surgery. In spite of that, I could tell my airflow was better as soon as I removed the packing on the 2nd day. I also started sleeping better.

I'm about 18 days post op and still sleeping on the foam wedge. The ENT said I'd heal better if I continued sleeping with my head elevated until I'm fully healed, about 6 weeks.

I'm really doing better. I still sound so congested, but my breathing and sleep is a lot better, and I'm hoping I'll notice even more improvements as time goes on. Nasal congestion hasn't been the only cause of my insomnia, but I think it's been a big aggravator.

I'll have another home OSA test after I've fully healed. My ENT doesn't know for sure, but she thinks my apnea will really improve now, maybe enough that I won't need treatment anymore.