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Anu asked...

I am having breathing difficulties while sleeping..

Hi, I am having breathing difficulties while sleeping, I have had this since childhood but recently its affecting my sleep really bad. I feel tired all day and before going to sleep I feel like right side my nose is blocked. I wake up min 3-4 times during sleep , but it doesn't last long I go back to sleep in few minutes. I do have breathing difficulties when walking or climbing stairs , I mostly breathe through my mouth. I have noticed nosebleed couple of times past 2 years, especially in winter. I don't consider myself stressed at all, are these simply symptoms of stress or something else?

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The answer

There are several possible causes for your symptoms. The most likely is damage to the nasal passages, either a septal defect or injury causing loss of air flow via the right nasal passage, enlarged adenoid, persistent sinus infection or nasal polyps, allergies causing nasal irritation may also need to be considered, all can lead to difficulty breathing through the nose and cause the need to mouth breath and also some difficulty breathing during physical activity and any of these conditions can trigger nose bleeds.

The other possible causes could be sleep apnoea, which does cause problems breathing during sleep, triggering you to wake suddenly feeling breathless and will cause feelings of tiredness throughout the day. This does not normally affect the nasal passages or cause breathlessness with activity. Also you may need to rule out a cardiac cause, where the heart is not beating effectively, this can cause you to wake suddenly feeling breathless and also cause difficulty with physical activity, your GP can assess this by listening to your heart and chest. We would suggest seeing your GP to assess you, as if they rule out a cardiac cause, your GP will need to refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to assess your nasal passages and sinus cavity to rule this out as a cause, usually by scanning the area and possibly endoscopy. If this is ruled out and sleep apnoea is suspected you will need referral for sleep studies as this will need to be managed.

Hopefully this will help you,

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses