What Is The Connection Between Sinusitis and Sleep Apnea? | CPAP.com Blog (2022)

What Is The Connection Between Sinusitis and Sleep Apnea? | CPAP.com Blog (1)Sleep apnea and sinusitis are both health conditions that reduce your quality of sleep by disrupting your breathing. While Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) blocks the throat, a sinus inflammation blocks the nasal passages. The result of either condition is an inability to get a good night’s sleep because you were unable to breathe. When you are experiencing those disruptions, your brain is telling your body to go to sleep. When this happens on a regular basis, it leads to chronic sleep loss and fatigue.

Chronic sleep loss also leads to a whole host of other health problems from high blood pressure to diabetes. If you think you are suffering from sleep apnea, sinusitis, or both, the best way to combat this and regain your ability to sleep well is by learning more about the two, how they are related, how they are not related, and finding a doctor to help you sleep better.

What Is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is caused by swelling and inflammation in the nasal cavities. The nasal cavities, also known as sinuses, are located in two areas of the face: the forehead just above the area between the eyebrows and under the eyes in each cheek.

The sinus cavity is surrounded by bone, lined with fine hairs called cilia that work like brooms, and are filled air. Sinuses also produce mucus, which is used as a protectant for the nasal cavities. Each time you inhale through your nose, this mucus and cilia work together to trap dust, dirt, pollutants, bacteria, and other particles to stop them from entering your body, especially your lungs.

Normally, the sinuses drain every 10 minutes to maintain a clear passage. When you get a cold or suffer from allergies, the nasal passages typically swell up, which blocks the flow of the sinuses. However, when you are sick, your nasal passages are unable to clean themselves naturally and causes a build-up of mucus that contains bacteria.

If this bacteria continues to build up in the nasal passages, it leads to inflammation. This inflammation of your nasal passages is better known as sinusitis. If left untreated, this condition becomes chronic, can last up to eight weeks, and is likely to interrupt your sleep. You may also have facial pain and a runny nose along with headaches.

(Video) How to WIN Your Sleep Apnea VA Disability Claim

You can decrease your risk of sinusitis by reducing your exposure to conditions known to cause it:

  • Swimming in Polluted Waters. Polluted waters can include oceans, lakes, and rivers. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to the beach, but if your main source of cardiovascular exercise is swimming and you suffer from sinusitis frequently, you may want to consider how often to swim in untreated waters.
  • Smoking. Smoking in itself has several known side effects, but one of those can be sinusitis. This is also true for those exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Frequent Contact With Children. Individuals who are regularly in contact with school-aged children are more likely to be exposed to bacteria and colds, leading to sinus conditions.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in interrupted sleep, caused by breathing problems.

When you are diagnosed with one of the three types of sleep apnea, it means that your upper airway is blocked when you are asleep. The blockage can be slight or complete and can leave you gasping for air. When this happens, your brain should receive the message to breathe, but instead, you stop breathing while sleeping.

Most of the time, you wake up after not breathing for a certain period of time and regain your breathing pattern. However, this disrupts your sleep and prevents it from reaching the critical deep sleep stage. The result is you’ll feel tired and irritable during the day because you never reached that crucial deep state of sleep.

In the short-term, it may feel like this chronic lack of sleep is manageable if you are in a stressful period in your personal or professional life (i.e.: moving or having a big project at work), but in the long run, that daytime fogginess and fatigue that makes you more irritable can lead to a whole host of more serious health problems. If untreated, chronic lack of sleep and accompanying stress may lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Is There a Connection Between Sinusitis and Sleep Apnea?

Medical research has shown that just because you are diagnosed with sleep apnea does not mean you will automatically develop sinusitis and vice versa. There is a slight increase that an individual with sleep apnea will also develop sinusitis, but the research is fuzzy on a clear link between the two.

A 2016 study is one of the most often cited scholarly articles on the topic, but it doesn’t offer conclusive answers. Researchers followed 971 people with OSA, as well as 4,855 people not diagnosed with OSA, for five years. The researchers reported fewer than seven percent of people with OSA were later diagnosed with sinusitis. Among those without OSA, only two percent developed sinusitis, therefore there is no conclusive evidence linking the two.

(Video) Secondary Conditions to Sleep Apnea and VA Ratings

A year later, doctors from Northwestern University and Rush University Medical Center studied general sleep disruptions in individuals with chronic rhinosinusitis. They noticed in preparation for their research that the medical community had not yet found any consistent links between the two.

The only known link between the two is that they can both disrupt your ability to get a good night’s rest by preventing you from breathing well. It’s frustrating to hear that the answer to something impacting your health is either maybe or it depends, but that is unfortunately the case here. Aside from routine maintenance of your CPAP machine, which we’ll cover later in this post, lifestyle changes such as losing weight and quitting smoking may also help.

Does Nasal Congestion and Allergies Cause Sleep Apnea?

When you have nasal congestion, you are unable to breathe properly at any time throughout the day. However, at night, you will likely notice that it is more difficult to fall asleep because of stuffed or runny sinuses. This blockage prevents you from staying asleep—just as with sleep apnea. One of your first lines of defense against nasal congestion is a NetiPot, which helps clear your nasal passages. After talking to your doctor, if a few rounds with a NetiPot does not work, then you should seek medical care as it may be sinusitis.

But are sleep apnea and sinus infections related, and can you avoid sleep apnea by treating sinusitis?

OSA is a sleep disorder while sinusitis is a temporary infection. Once you have successfully treated sinus problems, you will not suffer from breathing problems at night that were caused by a sinus infection. This means that sinusitis will eventually clear itself or may be treated with antibiotics. Whereas OSA is a disorder that is manageable and relatively benign but for which there is not a medication-based cure.

Note that there are two types of nasal congestions that can increase your risk factor for OSA:

  • Anatomical Problems. If you have nasal congestion due to an anatomical problem, this can cause a chronic loss of sleep. In this case, find a doctor that can help you with your OSA, but keep in mind that surgery is often a last-resort solution.
  • Chronic Allergies. If you have chronic allergies that consistently prevent you from having clear nasal passages, then you may develop OSA but they are not mutually exclusive. If you live in an area that is prone to seasonal colds and allergies, then you may also want to keep in mind how to use CPAP when you have a coldor symptoms associated with it that may disrupt your sleep.

To be diagnosed with OSA, you will need to get a sleep study through a medical provider at home or in a sleep study clinic. Based on your sleep test results, your doctor may recommend a CPAP machine for treating your sleep apnea.

(Video) How to Put your VA Sleep Apnea Claim to Rest!

Learn more about our home sleep apnea test kit.

Can Your CPAP Machine Make You Sick?

It’s unlikely that you’ll get sick from your CPAP alone, but if you think you’re getting sick from using your CPAP, it’s possible it needs a thorough cleaning. Using a CPAP machine in itself shouldn’t make you sick, but using a dirty CPAP machine definitely can. Some risks associated with using a dirty CPAP or one that hasn’t been used or cleaned in a while includes:

  • Skin Rashes or Infections. Your CPAP mask rests on your face and is in contact with the germs and bacteria on the skin. Over time, bacteria and oils on a dirty mask may give you a rash or infection on your face.
  • Respiratory Problems. If you don’t replace the humidifier water frequently or don’t wash it often enough, it’s possible for mold to develop and for you to breathe in that mold, which comes with a series of problematic respiratory problems.

Like any medical device, your CPAP machine requires routine maintenance.

Cleaning the inside of the hose, your mask, and changing your air filter are all part of cleaning your CPAP machine. Performing this routine maintenance is easy and can save you from unnecessary visits to the doctor. If you are not sure how to clean your CPAP, you can consult your specific CPAP machine’s owner’s manual.

Most routine maintenance of CPAP machines is pretty easy and involves only but a little scrubbing, hot water, and vinegar, but there are also machines designed to clean your CPAP accessories.

The bottom line is that sinus-related issues combined with your sleep apnea could be getting in the way of your productive sleep. We want you to be able to get the rest you deserve in order to be well-rested, motivated, and free from daytime fatigue. When in doubt, don’t forget to clean your CPAP equipment as recommended, and if you still think you are having sinus troubles while using your CPAP equipment, consult your doctor.

What Is The Connection Between Sinusitis and Sleep Apnea? | CPAP.com Blog (2)

David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.

(Video) Sleep Apnea

FAQs

Can sleep apnea be connected to sinusitis? ›

However, chronic sinusitis does increase your risk of sleep apnea caused by nasal congestion. Sleep apnea cannot be treated with medication and will not simply clear up on its own. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea or chronic sinusitis, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Can sleep apnea be caused by nasal congestion? ›

Nasal obstruction results in pathologic changes in airflow velocity and resistance. Experimentally produced nasal obstruction increases resistance and leads to sleep-disordered breathing events, including apnea, hypopnea, and snoring.

Should you use a CPAP machine if you have a sinus infection? ›

Minor nasal congestion can actually be relieved by CPAP, as the pressure helps clear the mucus and open nasal passages.

Can sinusitis cause sleeping problems? ›

If you have sinus conditions, including sinusitis or allergies, you may have extreme difficulty sleeping well throughout the night. Typically, individuals resort to breathing through their mouth, which prevents your nose from warming and filtering the air.

What sleeping position is best for sinus drainage? ›

The best sleeping position for sinus drainage problems and other sinus issues is to sleep with your head propped up. Sleeping with your head propped up will help gravity naturally drain your sinuses and reduce the chance of excessive blood flow that can develop sinus congestion.

What is sleep apnea secondary to? ›

Some conditions that can be secondary to sleep apnea may include but are not limited to heart conditions, mental health conditions, and diabetes. If you have a service-connected condition that you believe is causing your sleep apnea, it may be a good idea to start to talk to your doctors about it.

What are the long term effects of using a CPAP machine? ›

What are the long-term effects of using a CPAP machine?
  • dry or runny nose.
  • sore throat.
  • dry mouth.
  • dry eyes.
  • nasal congestion.
  • nosebleeds.
  • facial irritation.
  • air leaks around the mask.
9 Dec 2021

Can a CPAP machine cause sinus problems? ›

Nasal Congestion

One of the most common side effects associated with CPAP therapy is congestion or irritation of the nasal passages. This can include the feelings of stuffy nose, runny nose, a burning sensation, or nosebleeds.

Can I put Vicks Vaporub in my CPAP machine? ›

Petroleum Jelly Products Like Vaseline + Vicks Should Not Be Used with CPAP, NIV + Oxygen Masks.

How can I permanently cure sinusitis? ›

Depending on the underlying cause, medical therapies may include:
  1. Intranasal corticosteroids. Intranasal corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. ...
  2. Oral corticosteroids. Oral corticosteroids are pill medications that work like intranasal steroids. ...
  3. Decongestants. ...
  4. Saline irrigation. ...
  5. Antibiotics. ...
  6. Immunotherapy.

Does nose surgery help sleep apnea? ›

There are several types of nasal surgery for patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The common goal is to increase the size of the nasal passage, thereby decreasing the nose's airflow resistance. Once you are able to easily breathe through your nose, CPAP or oral appliance are generally better tolerated.

Does sinusitis cause shortness of breath? ›

Breathing difficulty can be caused by numerous factors, including sinus and nasal conditions that lead to restricted, congested or inflamed nasal passages. Sinus and nasal problems that cause breathing issues may include: Chronic sinusitis, which can cause nasal congestion and post-nasal drip.

Why do I wake up with sinus congestion every morning? ›

If you wake up with a stuffy nose and you don't have a cold or the flu, you may be dealing with allergic or non-allergic rhinitis. Your nasal congestion could be caused by dust mites, seasonal allergies, pet dander, reflux disease, hormonal changes, or chemicals in your environment like secondhand smoke.

Can sleep apnea cause mucus? ›

If you wake up every morning needing to hack up lots of thick mucous, or have throat pain, hoarseness, or a chronic cough, you're not alone.

What are the pressure points to clear sinuses? ›

Using your index and middle fingers, apply pressure near your nose between your cheekbones and jaw. Move your fingers in a circular motion toward your ears. You can use your thumbs instead of your fingers for a deeper massage. This should take 30 seconds to a minute.

How do I massage my sinuses to drain? ›

Take both of your index and middle fingers and place them above your eyebrows, toward the middle of your forehead. Slowly and gently massage outward in a circular motion, toward the temples. Repeat this motion for about 30 seconds to a minute.

What foods cause sinus inflammation? ›

Food to Avoid

Avoid dairy if you have had previous episodes of sinus infections. Also, try to avoid refined sugar as it is pro-inflammatory and increases the production of mucus. Other foods to avoid include tomatoes (contain histamines), chocolate, cheese, gluten, and fruits like bananas, which can cause congestion.

How much disability do you get for sleep apnea? ›

Right now, service-connected sleep apnea is assigned a 50 percent rating if you are prescribed a CPAP machine. If you have a CPAP and you also have chronic respiratory failure or similar conditions, you can get a 100 percent rating.

Do you get disability for sleep apnea? ›

The Social Security Administration (SSA) no longer has a disability listing for sleep apnea, but it does have listings for breathing disorders, heart problems, and mental deficits. If you meet the criteria of one of the listings due to your sleep apnea, you would automatically qualify for disability benefits.

Does anxiety cause sleep apnea? ›

The lack of rest causes a sleep debt that makes it more difficult for the brain to deal with stress, thus making any existing anxiety disorders worse. And since anxiety can make it more difficult to get the sleep you need, it can in turn make sleep apnea even more severe.

Why does CPAP cause weight gain? ›

The lack of fat accumulation does not support that a positive energy balance resulting from a decrease in BMR and increase in caloric intake is the main mechanism leading to weight gain during CPAP therapy for OSA.

Why am I more tired after using CPAP? ›

Why are you still tired after using the CPAP treatment? If you're still tired after using the CPAP machine, then you most certainly have CPAP resistant syndrome or True Residual Sleepiness. The science explains that there is a residual sleepiness in some patients with sleep apnea, which takes time to disappear.

Does CPAP make your lungs stronger? ›

CPAP is believed to act as a pneumatic “splint,” thereby preventing upper airway collapse (17, 18). However, it is also known to increase lung volume (19). Our results suggest that the effect of CPAP on lung volume may be an important mechanism by which it prevents upper airway collapse.

How many hours per night should CPAP be used? ›

If you're wondering, “how many hours per night should CPAP be used?” the answer is, for the entire night while you sleep, ideally 7+ hours. CPAP compliance measures how many hours and nights you use your therapy and if you use it often enough for effective treatment.

How often should I change my CPAP nasal pillow? ›

CPAP mask cushion: Should replace your cushion or nasal pillows once or twice a month. Over time, dirt and oils from your skin can soften the cushion, making it so it doesn't hold a tight seal anymore with your face. It also affects hygiene. This creates air leaks that can affect how effective your CPAP therapy is.

What happens if your CPAP pressure is too high? ›

If your CPAP pressure is too high, you may experience discomfort in your mouth, nose or airways, which can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, and cause your overall therapy to not work as well.

What essential oils help with sleep apnea? ›

There are 6 essential oils that have promising results when used to help manage the symptoms of sleep apnea.
  • Marjoram. Marjoram is a popular southern European plant that's a member of the mint family. ...
  • Lavender. ...
  • Peppermint. ...
  • Eucalyptus. ...
  • Thyme. ...
  • Roman Chamomile.
16 Jan 2021

Can you add anything to the water in a CPAP machine? ›

Only distilled water in the CPAP humidifier is allowed, anything else could damage it. Remember: essential oils are highly concentrated, use them safely to avoid adverse health risks, and it is not safe to place them directly into your CPAP machine.

How do you sleep with a CPAP when you have a cold? ›

5 Tips on Using CPAP When You Have a Cold
  1. Tip #1 Use a Heated Humidifier. ...
  2. Tip #2 Use a Full Face Mask. ...
  3. Tip #3 Elevate Your Head or Side Sleep at Night. ...
  4. Tip #4 Try Over-the-Counter Medications or Nasal Sprays. ...
  5. Tip #5 Adjust Your CPAP Pressure.
26 Nov 2021

What foods make sinus worse? ›

Here is the list of foods that you should avoid when suffering from sinusitis.
  • Processed Sugar. ...
  • Fatty foods. ...
  • Monosodium Glutamate. ...
  • Omega-6 Fatty acids. ...
  • Gluten and Casein. ...
  • Refined Carbohydrates. ...
  • Wine and Alcohol. ...
  • Dairy Products.
24 Aug 2021

What is the best natural remedy for sinusitis? ›

However, there are effective remedies, from chicken soup to compresses, that you can use to alleviate the pain and discomfort of sinus issues.
  • Water, water everywhere. Drink fluids and run a humidifier or vaporizer. ...
  • Nasal irrigation. ...
  • Steam. ...
  • Chicken soup. ...
  • Warm and cold compresses. ...
  • Manuka honey.

How can I get rid of sinusitis naturally? ›

7 home remedies for sinus pressure
  1. Steam. Dry air and dry sinuses can increase sinus pressure and cause headaches and throbbing pain. ...
  2. Saline flush. A common treatment for sinus pressure and congestion is a saline wash. ...
  3. Resting. ...
  4. Elevation. ...
  5. Hydration. ...
  6. Relaxation techniques. ...
  7. Exercise.

What is the new surgery for sleep apnea? ›

Inspire is an alternative to CPAP that works inside your body while you sleep. It's a small device placed during a same-day, outpatient procedure.

What is the success rate of sleep apnea surgery? ›

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, studies show that this procedure has a success rate of 60 percent or higher.

Can fixing deviated septum cure sleep apnea? ›

According to Ong, correction of a deviated nasal septum can improve nasal breathing but rarely cures sleep apnea. If you have both conditions, you may need surgery on your nose and treatment for your sleep apnea.

Can sinusitis cause low oxygen levels? ›

In chronic airway diseases such as sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, decrease in oxygen tension can occur due to pathologic changes in the microvascular structures or increase in metabolic demands (3).

Can sinusitis cause heart problems? ›

It affects the heart's natural pacemaker (sinus node), which controls the heartbeat. Sick sinus syndrome causes slow heartbeats, pauses (long periods between heartbeats) or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). Sick sinus syndrome is relatively uncommon.

Do sinuses drain into throat? ›

The sinuses drain down the back of the throat and into the stomach. Each time a person swallows, they are swallowing some mucus. Symptoms occur when there is an excessive amount of mucus, and the mucus is unusually thick.

Can a CPAP machine cause sinus problems? ›

Nasal Congestion

One of the most common side effects associated with CPAP therapy is congestion or irritation of the nasal passages. This can include the feelings of stuffy nose, runny nose, a burning sensation, or nosebleeds.

Does nose surgery help sleep apnea? ›

There are several types of nasal surgery for patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The common goal is to increase the size of the nasal passage, thereby decreasing the nose's airflow resistance. Once you are able to easily breathe through your nose, CPAP or oral appliance are generally better tolerated.

How can I permanently cure sinusitis? ›

Depending on the underlying cause, medical therapies may include:
  1. Intranasal corticosteroids. Intranasal corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. ...
  2. Oral corticosteroids. Oral corticosteroids are pill medications that work like intranasal steroids. ...
  3. Decongestants. ...
  4. Saline irrigation. ...
  5. Antibiotics. ...
  6. Immunotherapy.

Can sinus polyps cause sleep apnea? ›

Nasal polyps can cause complications because they block normal airflow and fluid drainage, and also because of the long-term irritation and swelling (inflammation) underlying their development. Potential complications include: Obstructive sleep apnea.

What are the long term effects of using a CPAP machine? ›

What are the long-term effects of using a CPAP machine?
  • dry or runny nose.
  • sore throat.
  • dry mouth.
  • dry eyes.
  • nasal congestion.
  • nosebleeds.
  • facial irritation.
  • air leaks around the mask.
9 Dec 2021

How many hours per night should CPAP be used? ›

If you're wondering, “how many hours per night should CPAP be used?” the answer is, for the entire night while you sleep, ideally 7+ hours. CPAP compliance measures how many hours and nights you use your therapy and if you use it often enough for effective treatment.

Why do I feel worse after using CPAP? ›

It's possible that you haven't been doing the therapy for long enough, you are removing your mask during the night, your pressure needs to be adjusted, or your symptoms are mild. It may take several weeks of proper and continuous usage before you feel the results of CPAP therapy.

What is the new surgery for sleep apnea? ›

Inspire is an alternative to CPAP that works inside your body while you sleep. It's a small device placed during a same-day, outpatient procedure.

What is the best surgery for sleep apnea? ›

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) or Upper Airway Surgery

UPPP is the most commonly performed surgery for OSA and has been used since the early 1980s7. This surgery involves removing or shrinking parts of tonsils, the uvula, and the soft palate.

Does your heart stop with sleep apnea? ›

Researchers suspect sleep apnea causes abnormal heart rhythms, which lead to sudden cardiac death, for a number of reasons. “Sleep apnea may lower oxygen levels, activate the fight-or-flight response and change pressure in the chest when the upper airway closes, stressing the heart mechanically,” he explains.

What foods clear your sinuses? ›

Bright colored vegetables and fruits such as berries, kiwi, pumpkin, papaya, sweet potatoes, and pineapple are all rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Pineapple also contains enzymes that break down the buildup on the sinuses and reduces inflammation.

What foods make sinus worse? ›

Here is the list of foods that you should avoid when suffering from sinusitis.
  • Processed Sugar. ...
  • Fatty foods. ...
  • Monosodium Glutamate. ...
  • Omega-6 Fatty acids. ...
  • Gluten and Casein. ...
  • Refined Carbohydrates. ...
  • Wine and Alcohol. ...
  • Dairy Products.
24 Aug 2021

What is the best natural remedy for sinusitis? ›

However, there are effective remedies, from chicken soup to compresses, that you can use to alleviate the pain and discomfort of sinus issues.
  • Water, water everywhere. Drink fluids and run a humidifier or vaporizer. ...
  • Nasal irrigation. ...
  • Steam. ...
  • Chicken soup. ...
  • Warm and cold compresses. ...
  • Manuka honey.

Can sleep apnea cause mucus? ›

If you wake up every morning needing to hack up lots of thick mucous, or have throat pain, hoarseness, or a chronic cough, you're not alone.

What do nasal polyps smell like? ›

If you have asthma, allergies, or frequent sinus infections, your risk of developing nasal polyps increases. Symptoms of nasal polyps include a rotten smell in your nose or a dramatically decreased sense of smell and taste.

Videos

1. What are sinus infections? | Christopher Tebbit, MD on Charlotte Today
(CEENTA)
2. Does Sleep Apnea Ever Go Away? Answers By Dr. Brandon Peters, Sleep Doctor
(The CPAP Shop)
3. Dr. Pasha on Sleep Apnea - Great Day Houston (5-16-16) | Pasha Snoring & Sinus Center
(PashaSnoringandSinus)
4. My Nasal Airway Surgery (Deviated Septum) & How It STOPPED My Mouth Breathing For Good.
(Stacey Clare - Health Coach)
5. Sleep Apnea Secondary Conditions SECRETS [NEW TIPS!]
(VA Claims Insider)
6. How to Travel the World with Sleep Apnea
(Ilan Persing)

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