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What causes nasal congestion while sleeping?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 2349 Questions
At night when sleeping, I have noticed that if I tilt my head a certain way, one side (sometimes both) of my nasal passages will fill and it is uncomfortable to clear them. What is this condition called and what causes this to happen? What problems can it cause if not treated?
Posted Sat, 9 Aug 2014 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
Please see the answer below...

Detailed Answer:

Thanks for posting the query.

The symptoms described by you seems to be of sinus related issue.

On lying down on one side, the blood flow increases to the most dependent part and hence the congestion.

You should consult your doctor as it requires complete examination of the nose, to look for any hypertrophied turbinate or deviated nasal septum.

Also, an X ray of the paranasal sinuses to look for sinus block and if required, CT scan of the same, for further evaluation.

Meanwhile, you can use saline nasal spray, drink lots of warm water and do steam inhalation.

Hope I have answered your query; I'll be available for the follow up queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes nasal congestion while sleeping? 2 hours later
What other problems does this cause if not treated? Is this the reason I get bad tastes in the back of my mouth when I cough at times, which I think reflect in my breath?
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Please check the answer below...

Detailed Answer:

Thanks for writing back

There are various side-effects noticed when left untreated. To mention a few:
1. The sinuses may get infected causing recurrent fever, headache, etc.
2. Eustachian tube (the tube connecting nose and the ear) may get blocked because of nasal congestion, leading to ear infections.
3. Heart related problems can occur due to strenuous breathing.
4. Foul breath because of mouth breathing and dryness of the throat.

Likewise, there are many more things which may happen. Hence, it would be wiser to get treated in the early stages rather than repenting later, once the complications set in.

Hope I have cleared your doubts.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N,
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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