Nasal obstruction is very common, and is usually caused by allergies or nasal septal deviation. Both allergic rhinitis and nasal septal deviation impair quality of life by contributing to daytime sleepiness, cognitive decline, fatigue, and disrupting sleep.
Persistent nasal obstruction can lead to mouth breathing. Opening of the mouth while sleeping causes retraction of the jaw and posterior displacement of the tongue, narrowing the upper airway. Take together, these factors lead to an increase in snoring and sleep apnea.
Allergic rhinitis is treated medically with saline rinses, nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy immunotherapy. Nasal septal deviation is treated surgically by performing septoplasty, an outpatient procedure that improves nasal airflow.
A recent study published in the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Journal demonstrates that treatment of allergic rhinitis and nasal septal deviation improves sleep quality, thereby reducing daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Even for patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea requiring treatment with CPAP, treatment of nasal obstruction improves CPAP compliance and daytime fatigue.