Question: My head stuffs up every night and my congestion forces me to sleep with my mouth open. I don’t have a cold and have just done this for the last 4 or 5 years. What’s causing this and what can I do?
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
Nasal congestion occurring mostly at night is usually caused by an allergic reaction to your bedding or pillows. This is common with feather pillows, so either change to foam or cover them with a sealed plastic cover and see if your symptoms go away.
Does this also occur when you sleep in other beds such as in a motel or hotel? Try it and see. If not, your bedding, mattress, or blankets may be the culprit. Chronic sinus disease and anatomic changes may play some role here, so be sure to consult your doctor to check for these issues. Have your doctor look carefully for nasal polyps that commonly accompany recurrent nasal problems.
Do you use nasal decongestants? Sometimes use of nasal decongestants will help for a few days then cause your symptoms to later rebound. Resolution often takes three weeks or more with topical corticosteroid treatment and discontinuation of nasal decongestant use.
Physical factors aside, take a look at your daily habits and environmental exposures. If you smoke, then you should quit, and be sure you’re not exposed to others’ smoke. Check your gas stove and water heater for any gas leaks. Finally, mold in a house or condo can cause similar symptoms. Look for moisture sources and have a professional evaluate your house for mold and fungi.
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