If you wake up in the morning and still feel exhausted, there's a chance that you're facing frequent sleep interruptions during the night. These changes in breathing and micro-coughs may not even be remembered upon waking. However, can really add up by creating feelings of sleep deprivation in you and your partner.
Snorers and their cohabitants are constantly in search of a solution to the sleep problem. Fortunately, despite snoring affecting nearly half of the adult population, it is far from an inevitable occurrence. Identifying the root cause of your snoring is the first step in planning effective treatment. For many, postnasal drip is a significant contributing factor. Here's what you need to know about the phenomena and finding relief.
What is Postnasal Drip?
Postnasal drip is about as glamorous as it sounds. When your body produces an excess amount of mucus, you may feel it flow down from your nose into your throat, where it can sometimes accumulate. Throughout the course of the day or night, this thick fluid drips down the back of your throat and is typically swallowed without you even noticing it.
Although this may seem harmful or disgusting, mucus plays an important role in the natural functioning of the body. The flow of mucus through your sinuses can provide crucial protections such as:
- The moistening of nasal membranes
- Filtration of foreign and harmful matter
- Defense against infection
Despite all of these benefits, postnasal drip can become problematic when mucus is over-produced with no true purpose. Too much build-up can create bad breath, persistent coughing, sore throat, and — you guessed it — snoring. Although the drip can occur at any hour, the sensation can be especially noticeable when you lie down, as gravity is no longer on your side.
Postnasal Drip and Snoring
The familiar snoring sound is produced when airflow through your passages is disrupted. This can be caused by a variety of factors, like over-relaxation of the soft palate muscle and/or a naturally narrow airway. However, instances of postnasal drip can intensify the problem.
The presence of mucus along your pharynx further limits the space that air has to travel. As you sleep, each breath will encounter turbulence and potentially lead to the growling or gurgling sounds associated with snoring.
Snoring's sensation and sound can be enough to greatly disturb you and your partner's sleep. But beyond that, postnasal drip can necessitate a frequent cough. Constant clearing of the throat (and the occasional trip to the bathroom to spit out any recovered mucus) will contribute to restless nights and even insomnia.
Although postnasal drip is natural and often necessary, especially heavy or frequent occurrences can be disruptive and evidence of a different problem.
What Causes Postnasal Drip?
Beyond your body's natural mucus flow, production can increase in response to a variety of environmental and bodily functions. If you are persistently impacted by postnasal drip, it may be worth examining your lifestyle to try to identify contributing factors.
Postnasal drip can increase as a result of things like:
- Colds, flu, or sinus infections
- Seasonal changes affecting temperatures and allergens
- Dairy products which can thicken mucus
- Irritants like smoking, vaping or marijuana use
- Rarely medications
Depending on your age and gender, you may face additional risk factors. Pregnant women often have increased sensation of postnasal drip, while children can encounter mucus problems after sticking something up their nose or due to allergies.
The primary problem that accompanies postnasal drip and the snoring it induces is extreme annoyance. However, persistent snoring and disrupted sleep can lead to bigger issues.
Impacts of Frequent Snoring
The occasional snore is nothing to lose sleep over. However, if your snoring is extremely loud and disruptive to your overall sleep pattern, you may want to pursue treatment. You can get respite from your snoring either by addressing its cause or, in serious cases, by investing in assistance machinery like a CPAP, especially if sleep apnea is confirmed. If you ignore severe cases of snoring for too long, you can face consequences.
Short Term Effects
In the short term, you can anticipate many of the unpleasant sensations that come with being sleep-deprived. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
Your comfort should never be put on the back-burner — even these "smaller" effects can warrant seeking treatment. However, in more extreme cases, it is important to watch out for more debilitating and long-lasting impacts.
Long Term Effects
Decreased airflow during sleep as a result of snoring leading to sleep apnea can raise your blood pressure. This heightened metric, over time, can lead to extremely serious medical emergencies, like heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease.
Going long periods without sufficient sleep can also take a toll on your mental health. When short term effects like headaches and irritability become chronic, your chances of depression and anxiety can increase.
Postnasal drip can present problems of its own, even outside of snoring and nighttime disruption. If left untreated, tubes leading to the ear and sinus can become clogged. This can cause painful infections that demand even more treatment.
Pursuing Treatment for Postnasal Drip and Snoring
Fortunately, there are plenty of methods available for treating postnasal drip and snoring. They can range to simple lifestyle changes, to more formal procedures to provide permanent solutions. If you have been experiencing chronic postnasal drip and snoring, you may want to consider:
- Changing sleep positions: For postnasal drip, this can be as simple as sleeping with your head elevated on more pillows. Laying on your side is also known to be a position less conducive to snoring.
- Creating new lifestyle habits: Staying hydrated can reduce the thickness of mucus and make passage easier. Minimizing dairy intake helps reduce mucus as well and thin it out.
- Consulting with a doctor for professional treatment: Chronic postnasal drip may be the result of anatomical problems, like a deviated septum. Meet with a medical professional is a great way to get a clear picture of the problem and plan your best route toward relief.
C/V ENT Surgical Group provides top-rated ENT surgical and medical care to the Los Angeles area. If you are seeking respite from persistent snoring or postnasal drip, contact us today to schedule an appointment or consultation.