Allergies and Snoring – Are They Connected? Here’s the Truth

If you’re an allergy sufferer who also deals with snoring, you may be putting two and two together. Allergies and snoring. Are the two related, or is it just a grim case of bad luck that you can’t seem to breathe correctly when laying down to go to sleep?

Allergies and Snoring

As it turns out, you’re not crazy. There is absolutely a link between allergies and snoring.

In this post, you’re going to learn what it is. You’re also going to learn how to help curb your snoring issues for good.

Can Allergies Cause You to Snore?

Allergies and snoring definitely have a link, and it comes in the form of a condition known as Allergic Rhinitis. Also known as ‘hay fever,’ this troublesome condition is triggered by allergic reactions to allergens like pollen and creates a series of symptoms that make you much, much more likely to snore.

According to statistics, about 8% of adults in the U.S. experience Allergic Rhinitis of some kind. The common symptoms of this condition can include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • A stuffy, runny, itchy nose
  • A sore, scratchy throat
  • Hives
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Coughing

In other words, inflammation and congestion of the sinus passages often follow when you’ve come into contact with pollen and other allergens that may trigger an Allergic Rhinitis reaction. And if they do, you’re a lot more likely to snore.

Here’s why. 

The Answer to the Question: Can Sinus Problems Cause You to Snore?

Sinus problems

Sinus congestion and inflammation can absolutely increase your odds of snoring. In fact, Allergic Rhinitis can sometimes cause Sinusitis to develop. This makes snoring even more likely.

Let’s break down how these two conditions can contribute to your snoring risk. 

Allergic Rhinitis

This condition, characterized by a runny nose, congestion, and inflammation, can cause snoring by making it more difficult to breathe through the nostrils. This can increase mouth breathing, which increases snoring risk all on its own. Or, it can cause nasal snoring by reducing the amount of room for airflow.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is often characterized by nasal congestion, discolored nasal drainage, a fever, a headache, and sinus pressure. Sinusitis is usually caused by viral or bacterial infections in the sinus cavities. Allergic Rhinitis doesn’t necessarily always cause it but in bad cases, it can certainly turn into it.

And just like Allergic Rhinitis, Sinusitis can contribute to your snoring risk in two major ways. For one, it reduces the amount of room for proper airflow in the nasal passages. This makes you more likely to develop a nasal snoring issue while sick. But it also increases the odds that you will start mouth-breathing in your sleep as well. And that also contributes to snoring risk.

Why Is Mouth Breathing Such an Issue?

Chronic mouth breathing can put you at risk for several different types of health complications. Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are certainly top contenders here, but other risks include:

  • Dental complications (decay and gum disease)
  • Speech and swallowing difficulties
  • Enlarged adenoids and tonsils
  • Worsening of asthma problems

Mouth breathing contributes to your snoring risk because it increases the odds for soft palate vibration the primary mechanism to blame for snoring. Sleeping with your mouth closed can reduce the severity of snoring.

Soft palate vibrations happen when the soft tissues of the upper airway relax and collapse-in. This constricts the airway, resulting in airflow that’s faster than usual. This faster-moving air vibrates the tissue of the soft palate, causing the sounds that we have all come to recognize as ‘snoring.’

Mouth Breathing Also Puts You at an Increased Risk For Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Mouth breathing

OSA is a much more serious sleep disorder that occurs when the soft tissues of the upper airway completely close-in and block airflow. This actually stops the person from breathing for a period of a few seconds. When the brain registers that oxygen isn’t coming into the body, it ‘jolts’ the person awake so that they tense their throat and take a breath.

This causes the ‘waking, choking, and gasping for air’ symptoms that so vividly characterize Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

If you fear that your allergies have caused you to develop an OSA problem, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is different from snoring. Snoring doesn’t always indicate a case of OSA. But loud, severe snoring is absolutely a primary symptom of OSA. Snoring is mostly just a nuisance, while OSA actually blocks your airway, keeps you from breathing, and jars you awake to pull you out of REM sleep.

As a result, you end up sleep-deprived, and at an increased risk of developing a number of different diseases and conditions, including:

  •  Daytime fatigue
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Type-2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Excess weight gain

If your partner reports that you regularly stop breathing in your sleep for brief periods of time, only to ‘wake up gasping for breath,’ it’s probably because you’ve developed a case of OSA, and need to speak to a doctor for treatment.

How to Stop Allergies and Snoring

By now, you may be thinking to yourself “yes, I probably have an allergy-related snoring problem.”

If so, what can you do about it?

If your problem is truly rooted in your allergic reactions and doesn’t spring up in any other circumstances, then the news is partly good. It means that if you can successfully treat your allergy symptoms, you can probably manage your snoring risk as well.

Do Antihistamines Help With Snoring?

You need to be careful with medications when it comes to snoring. Some medications actually relax the muscles. These will tend to make your snoring issues worse. Tranquilizers like Valium and Antivan can have such an effect.

But antihistamines may actually alleviate snoring symptoms, especially if they are caused by allergies.

Here’s why.

Allergies elicit an immune response from your body as a means of fighting against the ‘invaders’ of pollen, dander, dust, etc. Antihistamines rush to the sites where allergens are detected and bind to the receptors that cause the inflammation.

In other words, they help to reduce the inflammation by stopping the reaction. This is how they help to reduce snoring risk if your snoring is, indeed, caused by an allergic reaction.

What Will Make Me Stop Snoring?

If you’re dealing with allergies and snoring, then here are some steps to take when you start to endure seasonal allergy flair-ups.

Take an Allergy Medicine

Any antihistamine allergy medicine (okayed by your doctor, of course) has a decent shot at reducing your symptoms and your snoring risk.

Sleep on Your Side

It may not seem like it, but turning onto your side while you sleep can greatly reduce your odds of snoring, especially if your allergies are causing you to breathe through your mouth after you pass out. If you can’t manage to stay off of your back, try propping yourself up with pillows.

Use a Humidifier

A humidifier may not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to stopping snoring problems but it can certainly help in dry months when the pollen count is higher. Moisturizing the air keeps dust, dirt, dander, and other debris from floating around at such a high volume. It also helps to soothe dry throats and nasal passages. If you really want to crank up the usefulness of your humidifier, consider getting a humidifier/essential oil diffuser combo, and use some peppermint or eucalyptus oil.

Use a Stop Snoring Device

If your snoring problem persists, you may need to use an anti-snoring device to curb it. A mandibular advancement device, a tongue stabilization device, or nasal strips can all be effective tools for helping to lower your snoring risk.

In Conclusion

The most important thing to remember about snoring is that it needs to be addressed. A lot of people just ignore it and try to live with it. But this keeps your partner awake, and keeps you from getting the quality of rest you deserve.

So take measures to stop your snoring problem, and get back to a decent, restful night’s sleep.

Quick FAQs

Can Vicks help snoring?

Vicks VapoRub contains active ingredients that help to open the nasal passages and improve breathing during sleep. Yes, it can help to curb your snoring problems, especially if those problems are caused by allergies. But sometimes, Vicks alone isn’t enough to solve the issue.

Why does my nose get stuffy at night when I lay down?

Nasal congestion actually gets worse at night, due to the fact that when we lay down to go to sleep, more blood rushes to our head. This increases blood flow to the top of our body, increasing inflammation, and the odds that some kind of ‘swelling’ is going to happen. The steps outlined in the article above can do a lot to help eliminate snoring when it happens only at night. As a general rule, treating a stuffy nose in such cases will also help you to eliminate your allergies and snoring issues.