In this complete guide we explain the connection between deviated septum and sleep apnea:
Can a Deviated Septum Cause Sleep Apnea?
Sleep-related breathing disorders sit on a broad continuum, which ranges from simple or primary snoring at one end and obstructive sleep apnea at the other end.1The role of the nose in snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea: an update
Sleep apnea is usually defined as cessation (stoppage) of airflow into the lungs which lasts for more than 10 seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea is defined as a common disorder characterized by repetitive episodes of nocturnal (night time) breathing cessation due to upper airway failure. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition because of its effects on cardiovascular outcomes.2Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome and its management.
A deviated nasal septum is related to restricting the nasal airflow, which leads to causing nasal obstruction3The Reason of Dissatisfaction of Patient after Septoplasty. This becomes more critical when the patient lies down (supine), as it leads to increased nasal resistance and restricts the flow even further.4The role of the nose in snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea: an update
There can be other causes of sleep apnea, apart from a nasal septum defect. These include other structural abnormalities such as enlarged turbinates (small structures present in the nose) and nasal valve collapse, and inflammatory causes, including nasal polyps (abnormal tissue growth), sinusitis and rhinitis.5The role of the nose in snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea: an update
Certain factors, such as snoring, day-time sleepiness, poor quality of sleep and sleep disturbances, are all associated with sleep apnea.
Will a Corrected Deviated Septum Help Sleep Apnea?
Nasal obstruction is one of the major signs that septoplasty (deviated septum surgery) is needed, and as nasal obstruction is related to symptoms such as sleep apnea, septoplasty should successfully improve symptoms related to sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances.
Several studies have been undertaken to understand the effects of septoplasty on sleep apnea. One such study found that parameters that measure sleep apnea such as apnea-hypopnea index (severity of sleep apnea), severity of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, and mean oxygen saturation, all showed significant improvements. In addition to this, the sleep satisfaction scores of patients improved significantly as well6Clinical Effect of Surgical Correction for Nasal Pathology on the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome..
Another study depicted similar results, with significant improvements in sleep quality, nasal obstruction, snoring and sleep apnea7Effects of Functional Septoplasty in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.
Other Sleep Apnea Treatments When You Have a Deviated Septum
If your sleep apnea is caused by a deviated septum we strongly recommend you look into having your septum corrected through deviated septum surgery (aka “septoplasty”).
But if it’s not possible for you to have septoplasty surgery soon, there are a number of things you can do at home to reduce the septum’s impact on your sleep apnea.
Here are our recommendations:
- 1Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): Continuous positive airway pressure is a type of therapy in which airflow is introduced into the airways to maintain a continuous pressure to allow the airways to open, while they are breathing at the same time.
CPAP has shown in hundreds of studies to improve measures of sleep apnea, and is considered the “gold standard” of obstructive sleep apnea treatment. Measures that have been improved by CPAP in studies include reducing apnea-hypopnea index (severity of sleep apnea), and sleepiness.
It has been suggested that patients who have moderate to severe sleep apnea should consider continuous positive airway pressure therapy as it has shown in many studies to benefit health, quality of life and workplace productivity8Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
- 2Oral Appliances: Patients who cannot use CPAP therapy and have mild to moderate sleep apnea can make use of oral appliances.
Oral appliances improve upper airway configuration and prevent collapse by changing the position of the jaw and tongue9Oral Appliance Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An Update.
It has been shown in studies that these devices can enlarge the airway space. The best practice for oral appliance therapy involves fitting of the oral appliance by a dentist who has extensive experience and additional training in dental sleep medicine.
Research has shown that oral appliances can be as effective as continuous positive airway pressure therapy in patients with mild to moderate symptoms, and that these devices tend to provide better adherence in patients10Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
- 3Lifestyle changes: The Canadian Thoracic Society guidelines recommend that patients with sleep disordered breathing should make changes to excessive alcohol consumption and sedative use11Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
It has also been seen in research that exercise of modest intensity and weight loss by 10% of current weight in overweight and obese patients resulted in reductions in apnea-hypopnea index, hence, improving symptoms of sleep apnea12Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
Some studies also suggested the use of dietary modification and implementing sleep hygiene, in order to reduce symptoms of sleep apnea13Lifestyle Modification for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.
- 1The role of the nose in snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: an update
- 2Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome and its management.
- 3The Reason of Dissatisfaction of Patient after Septoplasty
- 4Clinical Effect of Surgical Correction for Nasal Pathology on the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.
- 5Oxygen Saturation.
- 6Effects of Functional Septoplasty in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.
- 7Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
- 8Oral Appliance Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An Update.
- 9Lifestyle Modification for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.