Sleep Med Psychophysiol.  2005 Dec;12(2):93-97.

Sleep Disordered Breathing and Nasal Obstruction

  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Asan Medical Center, College of Medicine, University of Ulsan, Seoul, Korea.


Nasal obstruction may cause or aggravate sleep disordered breathing but exact pathogenesis is not clear. The possible mechanism could be combination of alteration in upper airway aerodynaimcs, loss of nasal reflex or sensation, effect of mouth opening, and a genetic predisposition. Anatomical narrowing of nasal airway cause more rapid airflow and induce more negative inspiratory air pressure. So, it increases collapsibility of pharyngeal airway. Loss of nasal sensation to airflow block nasal reflex. Mouth opening decreases the activity of pharyngeal airway dilator muscles and narrowing the pharyngeal airway may occur. The treatment of nasal obstruction should be done according to the cause. The causes of nasal obstruction are various from problems of external nasal opening to nasopharynx. Relief of nasal obstruction may not cure sleep disordered breathing always. In some mild obstructive sleep apnea patients, treatment of nasal obstruction only may cure sleep disordered breathing. In some severe sleep apnea patients, treatment of nasal obstruction may increase compliance of continous nasal positive airway pressure.


Nasal obstruction; Sleep apnea syndromes
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