When seasonal (or year-round) allergies attack, you’re miserable – getting up in the morning with congested sinuses, spending the day sneezing, and going to bed breathing through your mouth. If this sounds like you and you also suffer from sleep apnea, allergies may just make the situation worse. When your airway is obstructed by inflamed sinuses or mucus, your sleep apnea treatments may not be as effective. In this post, we’ll discuss what you should know about how allergies impact treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnea, and what you can do to ensure you’re getting a full night’s sleep even when allergies are making you miserable.
Allergies & Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Allergic rhinitis (typically referred to simply as allergies) is a condition that occurs when patients breathe in something they are allergic to such as mites, dust, and pollen. This causes the nasal passages to become irritated or inflamed. Studies indicate that patients with allergic rhinitis can experience negative effects on their sleep when allergies are at their height. Allergic rhinitis is also a contributing factor for obstructive sleep apnea. Allergies cause the inflammation of the upper airway which may make it difficult to breathe through the nose or mouth, leading to sleep apnea. For those patients who suffer from sleep apnea even when allergy symptoms are at a minimum, this could mean they need to make some changes to their treatment plans if they notice allergy symptoms increasing.
Sleep Apnea Treatment & Allergies
In most cases, patients will want to make a few slight adjustments to their sleep apnea therapy to help offset the potentially negative impact of allergic rhinitis. In addition to continuing consistent use of your oral appliance and/or CPAP system to address airway obstruction, you should also consider the following:
- Take an over the counter allergy medication each day when allergies are most problematic for you to continually reduce symptoms (talk to your doctor before taking any medications)
- Before going to bed, you may want to take a medication like Benadryl, which usually helps patients to sleep as well as opening the airway (talk to your doctor before taking any medications)
- Use an inhaled corticosteroid medication immediately before going to bed to help open up the nasal passage and reduce inflammation of the airway (talk to your doctor before taking any medications)
- Invest in a sleeping wedge or other pillow that elevates your body slightly, allowing gravity to pull mucus and drainage downward keeping the airway unobstructed
Meet Dr. Zulawinski
At Sleep Better with Arlington Dental Associates, your skilled Arlington Heights sleep dentist, Brian Zulawinski, DDS, offers a wide range of diagnostics and treatment planning services for patients struggling with obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re receiving treatment for sleep apnea and you struggle with seasonal allergies, let Dr. Zulawinski know during your treatment planning visit or at a regular checkup. In some cases, Dr. Zulawinski and our team can work with you to establish a plan to avoid sleepless nights during allergy season. If you ever have questions or concerns about your sleep apnea therapies, please don’t hesitate to contact our Arlington Heights dental office. We’ll do our best to answer questions for you over the phone, or one of our team members will be happy to schedule a consultation visit for you to sit down with Dr. Zulawinski.