Do Nasal Polyps Cause Sleep Apnea?

If the thought of having growths in your nose makes you a little uncomfortable, you’re not alone. Though generally considered non-cancerous, nasal polyps are common because they can block airways.

If you’ve been told you breathe through your mouth at night or make loud, gasping noises when you sleep, you could be battling obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It’s a common but serious health condition that can lead to other life-threatening events, including stroke or heart attack, if not treated properly. 

Curious if nasal polyps are causing you sleep apnea? Here’s how you can tell and what you can do.

What causes nasal polyps? 

The true cause of nasal polyps is not fully understood. Scientists and doctors do believe it has something to do with inflammation of the mucous membrane along the nasal and sinus passages. This could be a result of immune system responses or the chemical makeup of an individual’s nasal lining. When the lining of your nose gets inflamed, it causes swelling. Over time, the swollen tissue can grow, and hang from a stalk, as a jelly-like benign growth, which is called a nasal polyp.

However, just because inflammation is present, or the immune system gets triggered, doesn’t mean nasal polyps are necessarily present. Some people develop them easily, and some never get them at all. 

But just because you haven’t experienced them yet, doesn’t mean you never will. 

Nasal polyps can develop at any age, though they’re most common as we reach adulthood or midlife and gradually increase as we age. 

If you suffer from asthma, cystic fibrosis, Churg-Strauss syndrome, a vitamin D deficiency, or certain allergies, you may be at greater risk of developing complications due to nasal polyps. Some viruses also contribute to an overgrowth of polyps. 

How do you know if you have a nasal polyp?

If you have inflamed sinuses that last for 12 or more weeks, you may be dealing with nasal polyps. Though they’re small and usually painless, consider seeing an ENT specialist such as Los Angeles-based Dr. Kayem if you have any of the following nasal polyp symptoms as described by the Mayo Clinic.

  • A runny nose
  • Persistent stuffiness
  • Postnasal drip
  • Decreased or absent sense of smell
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Loss of smell 
  • Facial pain or headache
  • Pain in your upper teeth
  • A sense of pressure over your forehead and face
  • Snoring
  • Frequent nosebleeds

Can nasal polyps cause snoring?

Even relatively small polyps can obstruct your sinus passages, causing you to snore. You may also be dealing with one very large nasal polyp.

Nasal polyps and sleep apnea are also common, since they can almost completely prevent you from getting enough oxygen throughout the night. 

Don’t wait until your symptoms worsen to make an appointment with a trusted ear nose and throat doctor or sleep clinic like the Sinus and Snoring center. Symptoms can worsen suddenly, making it difficult to see, breathe, or even move your head forward. 

If you’re experiencing double vision, fever, or severe headache, contact your doctor immediately and try to get seen the same day, if possible. 

How do you treat nasal polyps? 

Ok, so you’re pretty sure you are dealing with nasal polyps. What can you do about it? 

  1. Take medication (nose drops, nasal spray, tablets, or injections) to shrink the polyp(s).
  2. Undergo endoscopic surgery to remove the polyp(s).
  3. Schedule a balloon sinuplasty.
  4. Address with radio frequency (RF) treatments, an Elevoplasty, or Pillar Procedure.

Trained experts like those at the LA Sinus and Snoring Center offer a variety of surgical and minimally invasive sinus procedures and snoring solutions that can help you sleep and live better.

OSA FAQ:

  • What happens if nasal polyps go untreated? Over time, untreated nasal polyps can widen the nose as gravity pulls at them, expanding your nostrils and soft tissues as they continue blocking air and fluid from circulating.
  • Can you pull out nasal polyps at home? Never try and address polyps yourself without medical intervention. You could permanently damage your nasal cavity or cause serious infection. 
  • When do nasal polyps need to be removed? The moment your sleep or quality of life begins to suffer, it’s time to have your polyps removed by an ENT doctor. 
  • Can nose polyps be cancerous? The majority of polyps are cancer-free; however, the only way to know for sure is to have them examined and tested by a sinus specialist to determine a possible malignancy. 

Whether you’re in Beverly Hills or Sin City, you don’t have to suffer from nasal polyps and sleep apnea. One call can help you find the relief that’s right for you.