As I write this, August 2013, the grass pollen allergy season is in full swing and you can hear snoring in many apartments.
Jack V., age 28, never snores except during May and June. This bothers his companion and he is exiled to the couch. He came to see me for a solution, other than to get a couch that converts to a bed. Jack showed a mild deviation of his nasal septum and some swelling of his soft palate. When he lifted his nasal tip, this did not improve his airway.
Jack complained of being fatigued, which he blamed on his allergy pills.
I explained to Jack that the snoring was a sign that he wasn’t getting good sleep. Fortunately he was able to sleep without snoring with one of the antihistamine nasal sprays such as Astelin.
Robert T., about 30, came to see me. He was fine during the winter, but over the past 4 years, in May he developed snoring and even when he stopped sneezing in July, his nose stayed plugged for weeks, sometimes requiring an antibiotic.
In Robert’s situation, despite medications, he was developing infections following his allergy. I recommended that he be tested and treated for allergy sensitivity; since his symptoms were in spring, we checked for tree allergy. Because his snoring and allergy were severe, followed by nasal/sinus infection, I recommended the desensitization and full allergy therapy including dustproofing the bedroom.
With snoring, you may get a vicious circle. The more the snoring, the more the fatigue, the more you eat sweets next day for energy. This leads to increase fat deposits in the throat, which makes the soft palate and tongue heavier, resulting in increased blockage at night.
Snoring only during the allergy season is not critical. But if the snoring becomes a sinus infection, that needs work to stop the snoring and clear the infection.
How does snoring in allergy become a sinus infection? Typically there are symptoms of sneezing, hacking, and poor sleep. With poor sleep your immunity is lowered, so infection can develop. When you have a bad allergy season, the nasal cilia get exhausted. Normally the nasal cilia make a wave to move the bacteria out of the nose, to the throat where they are swallowed and the stomach acid kills the bacteria. But if the nasal cilia slow down, then the bacteria remain in place and multiply. The large number of bacteria, plus the reduced immunity, makes for a sinus infection caused by the allergy. It is best to use pulse wave irrigation – The Hydro Pulse Nasal/Sinus irrigator. When you irrigate and the solution vibrates as the best rate, then the cilia are nudged back to full activity. Interestingly when the seasonal allergy starts, nasal cilia actually speed up, as nature tries to move the pollen away.
Snoring: Vicious Circle
If snoring continues after allergy season, you get a vicious circle: the more you snore, the more exhausted nest day, the more you eat for fatigue, the more swelling of the throat tissues, the more you snore. This can lead to sleep apnea; here the breathing is so blocked that for periods of time, air doesn’t get to the brain. This can be serious complication of what started as a simple allergy.
Take care of your allergy to prevent the snoring. Try the antihistamne type nasal sprays. Take your finger and gently lift up the tip of your nose. Does this widen the airway and improve the breathing? If so, get ½ inch medical grade tape. Attach it on the bottom of your nose, just above the openings. Then lift the tip up gently and comfortably, attach the rest fo the tape to the bridge of the nose, up to between the eyes. Use this when you sleep to open your nose during sleep and stop the snoring.
With allergy, you are more sensitive to dust, odors and spices. For example you may not have symptoms until the pollen reaches a high level; call it a ten. When pollen is a ten you sneeze. the pollen is a seven, and the room is dust proofed, no odors – perfume, deodorizer strays in the room and you avoid eating hot spices, then no symptoms.
But if the pollen is a seven, and the room is dusty, with perfume/odors, then you will get symptoms at a pollen of seven.
Getting chilled worsens allergy. Having the head of the bed elevated, helps drain excess fluid and reduces nasal blockage. For airway relief during allergy, using pulse wave irrigation acts as a massage to pulse away extra fluid in the tissues and turbinates.
If you own a yacht , sailing away from the pollen helps a lot!
Another complication is that with the breathing blockage, there is a pressure exerted on the abdomen. The blocked airway, whether nasal or throat, acts almost like a vacuum to pull on the stomach contents. This overcomes the sphincter that separates the stomach from the esophagus, and stomach acid is refluxed into the upper throat. This will irritate the throat and cause further swelling and obstruction. It is very important to avoid these complications, because the longer the symptoms, the more possibility it can lead to Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The acid problem can develop into a full blown GERD. Avoid this by not eating 3 hours before bedtime and keep the head of the bed elevated.
In Obstructive Sleep Apnea, there are periods where the person stops breathing; during these times oxygen doesn’t reach the brain. To compensate for this you may get hypertension and even diabetes.
To me the worst aspect of allergy snoring is how easily it can become significantly worse in a circle of snoring to overeating and increased acid reflux, leading to serious snoring and even to Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
The following recommendations are useful, particularly when the allergy snoring problem is just starting:
Make sure the bedroom is not a factor. Allergy is arithmetic: the pollen plus the dust, plus bedroom odors –perfumes, moth flakes – gives you a ten and you sneeze. But if you reduce the dust and odors the arithmetic sum may be less than ten and you don’t have symptoms. Whatever the allergy, the bedroom should be dust proofed.
Sleep on your left side. Then your tongue falls forward and doesn’t block the airway. On your back, the tongue can fall backward and block the breathing and cause snoring. Sew a tennis ball to a T-shirt back; the ball will nudge you to turn to the side.
Are you using a nasal saline spray? Some contain preservatives that can irritate the nose. Check out Breathe.ease XL which is a powder you add to water fresh each week, so there are no preservatives and you get a tested nasal formula. See www.grossan.com
In some persons the tip of the nose droops and blocks the air passage; lifting the nasal tip up opens that airway. It this is you, place ½ inch medical grade adhesive tape under the nasal tip and gently attach to the bridge of the nose while gently lifting the tip upward. Sleep with the nasal tip raised and the nasal airway open.
Use the Hydro Pulse Nasal Irrigation to clear any chronic nasal infection and to restore the nasal cilia. Use the Throat attachment to the Hydro Pulse to shrink swollen throat tonsils and tissue.
When snoring accompanies allergy and persists, do not buy ear plugs for the partner; instead get the problem corrected to avoid having it become a chronic problem that can get worse.
Books by Dr Murray Grossan:
Free Yourself from Sinus and Allergy – Permanently
Stressed? Anxiety? Your Cure is in the Mirror
Ringing in the Ear – Tinnitus Relief
The Whole Persons Tinnitus Relief Program
For Good Sleep, Stop Snoring