Our readers are invited to email us with their questions!
Q: My nose is really blocked up, can that cause OSA? (Annie P.)
A: Annie, nasal congestion leading to a blocked or runny nose can be uncomfortable at the best of times. It can make it particularly difficult to get a good night’s sleep. However, people who experience consistent chronic nasal congestion can double the risk of the sleep disorder Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Those suffering with this disorder have their sleep frequently interrupted through the night as their airways become blocked. They often awake, sometimes gasping for air, leading to excessive tiredness during the day. Nasal congestion due to any cause will only add to the potential for the airways to become blocked.
Q: My eyes have been drying out since starting the CPAP, how can I avoid that? (Ginger Z.)
A: Ginger, first of all, it’s important to note that if you’re treating sleep apnea, you’re already on the right track to better eye health. Research shows that the decrease in oxygen caused by sleep apnea negatively impacts the eyes.
Oxygen desaturation causes the release of catecholamines and inflammatory cytokines. This impacts the body’s ability to repair blood vessels in the eyes and may exacerbate underlying retina issues. Plus, sleep apnea is linked to a variety of conditions that impact eye health such as diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, and more.
After beginning sleep apnea treatment, you may experience CPAP dry eyes if you develop the following symptoms:
Redness of the eyes
A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation of the eyes
Stringy mucus or discharge around the eyes
The sensation of having something in your eyes
Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Difficulty driving at night
Your eyes might be dry for a couple of reasons. Your mask may have a leak and need to be adjusted. There could be air blowing from other sources such as a ceiling fan or space heater. Then there is the possibility that there are allergens in the air of your bedroom.
Working through and testing these factors one by one and adjusting for them can solve the problem.