Can Allergies And Snoring Be Related? ENT Explains

Posted by: ENT & Sleep Specialists in Allergies, Snoring on April 23, 2024

young woman sneezing outside in front of a tree with pink flowers

Allergies and snoring can be related. Unfortunately, having significant allergies can impact a good night’s sleep. Let’s take a look at how allergies and snoring are related and how they can affect your sleep.

Allergies And Snoring: Background

First, let’s take a look at some background information to help you better understand both allergies and snoring.

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to certain substances, can lead to inflammation and congestion in the nasal passages. This congestion, in turn, can cause snoring – the vibrating noise produced when air cannot flow freely through the throat and nose. This can impact healthy sleep and having a good night’s rest.

Common Allergic Triggers

Allergies are common and can be triggered by a variety of substances. The reaction occurs when a person’s immune system overreacts to something in the environment that is usually harmless to most people. The substances that often cause reactions are known as allergens. Here are some of the most common allergic triggers:

  • Trees, Grasses, and Weeds: Pollen is one of the most common allergens and varies seasonally. Tree pollen is typically highest in the spring, grass pollen in late spring and summer, and weed pollen in the autumn. Pollen allergies often lead to seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever.
  • Microscopic Organisms And Dust Mites: These thrive in warm, humid environments and are typically found in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets. Their droppings are highly allergenic and can cause year-round allergy symptoms.
  • Animal Dander: Proteins found in the skin flakes, urine, and saliva of furry animals such as cats and dogs are common allergens. The pet hair itself is not an allergen, but it can collect dander, dust, and pollen.
  • Mold: Molds can be found indoors and outdoors in damp areas. They release spores into the air which can be inhaled, causing allergy symptoms. Common places for indoor mold growth include basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.
  • Specific Foods: Some of the most common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, and milk. Reactions can range from mild to severe and can include anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition.

What Is Snoring?

Snoring is a common condition that occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is partially obstructed during sleep. This blockage can cause the surrounding tissues of the throat to vibrate, leading to the characteristic sounds of snoring. The sound can vary in volume and is often a source of disturbance for sleep partners and sometimes even for the snorers themselves.

What Are Some Common Causes Of Snoring?

Several factors can contribute to snoring, including:

  • Anatomy of the Mouth and Sinuses: Individuals with certain physical traits such as a thick soft palate, enlarged adenoids, tonsils, or a long uvula might be more prone to snoring. These anatomical features can narrow the airway and increase the likelihood of airway obstruction.
  • Overweight: Excess body weight, especially around the neck, can compress and narrow the airway, enhancing the risk of snoring.
  • Age: As people age, the throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in the throat decreases, which can lead to snoring.
  • Sleep Position: Sleeping on your back can cause the tongue to move to the back of the throat, which partly blocks airflow and leads to snoring.
  • Alcohol Consumption and Smoking: Alcohol relaxes throat muscles and decreases natural defenses against airway obstruction. Similarly, smoking can irritate the mucous membranes and increase muscle relaxation, leading to snoring.
  • Nasal Problems: Chronic nasal congestion or a deviated septum may block nasal airways, making it difficult to breathe smoothly during sleep.
  • Sleep Apnea: This is a serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is often associated with loud snoring punctuated by periods of silence when breathing stops.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Frequent snoring is sometimes associated with hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions.
  • Daytime Fatigue: Regular disruptions in sleep caused by snoring can lead to daytime drowsiness, irritability, and decreased productivity.
  • Relationship Stress: Snoring can also cause significant relationship stress if a partner’s sleep is regularly interrupted

Allergies And Snoring: How Are They Related?

The link between allergies and snoring is not always straightforward, as several factors contribute to the development of both conditions. However, research suggests that individuals with allergic sensitization may be more prone to habitual snoring.

Snoring And Atopic Disease

Allergies In Kids

According to the study linked below, there is a strong association between snoring and atopic diseases especially in children. The study can be found at:

​Upper Airway Inflammation

Furthermore, identifying and treating allergies can help to reduce the occurrence of snoring. Evidence suggests that allergic sensitization leads to upper airway inflammation, resulting in symptoms such as nasal obstruction and increased nasal resistance. These factors contribute to the development of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in children.

Sleep Apnea And Allergic Rhinitis

Additionally, a case-control study revealed that children with allergic rhinitis had an increased risk of habitual snoring and sleep apnea. The study recommended considering an assessment for underlying allergic conditions when addressing sleep problems in children. The study can be found here:

So, Can Allergies Cause Snoring?

Yes, allergies and snoring are quite related, and allergies can cause snoring. Allergies can lead to congestion in the nasal airway, and this can lead to snoring issues. 

Allergic sensitization may increase the risk of habitual snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Understanding and addressing the connection between allergies and snoring can lead to better sleep quality and overall health.

Can Non-Allergic Rhinitis Cause Snoring?

Although non-allergic rhinitis doesn’t involve the immune system, it can still cause snoring. Similar to allergies, non-allergic rhinitis involves nasal congestion and inflammation, which can obstruct the airway and lead to snoring. It is crucial to manage non-allergic rhinitis symptoms to reduce the risk of snoring and sleep-related issues.

​Do Not Ignore Other Medical Issues

While seasonal allergies can cause snoring, there are other causes of snoring as well. An ENT doctor can help you to determine what your snoring is from. Other factors that could contribute to snoring and sleep-related problems include obesity, smoking, and anatomical issues like adenoid hypertrophy. Taking a holistic approach to snoring and allergy management can lead to improved outcomes and enhanced quality of life for both the affected individuals and their families.

Allergies And Snoring: Treatment

If you’re allergies, especially nasal allergies, are causing or contributing to your snoring, there are different ways you can treat this. Treatment can help to improve poor sleep quality for both you and your bed partner. 

Lifestyle Changes

There are several simple lifestyle changes you can make to help allergy sufferers. If allergies are one cause of your snoring, making some of these changes can be helpful to you. 

  • Maintain a clean sleep environment: Regularly washing bed sheets, pillowcases, and blankets can help minimize allergens. Using allergen-proof bedding materials is also beneficial in reducing exposure to allergens.
  • Control indoor humidity: High humidity encourages the growth of allergens such as mold, mildew and dust mites. To maintain optimal indoor humidity, use a dehumidifier if necessary and ensure adequate ventilation in the bedroom.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom: Pet dander can cause allergic reactions and contribute to snoring. Establishing a pet-free zone in the bedroom will help reduce allergens.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke: Smoking can obstruct the nasal passages, making snoring worse. Staying away from secondhand smoke is also important for preventing allergies-related snoring.
  • Choose air purifiers wisely: Using an air purifier with a HEPA filter can be effective in reducing airborne allergens. Remember to change the filters regularly to maintain their efficiency.
  • By taking these steps, it is possible to reduce the risk of allergies-induced snoring and improve overall sleep quality. It is essential to identify and address the specific allergens causing the problem to maximize results.

Allergy Medications

Before resorting to prescription medications, there are many options when it comes to over the counter allergy medication. These over the counter medications can be an effective treatment for many patients. 

Oral Antihistamines

  • Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert): Non-drowsy, controls symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec): May cause drowsiness, effective for treating runny nose, sneezing, and itchiness.
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra): Non-drowsy, used for sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): Causes drowsiness, effective for quick relief of allergy symptoms.

Nasal Sprays

  • Fluticasone (Flonase): Steroid nasal spray that reduces inflammation, treats nasal congestion, and other allergic symptoms.
  • Triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ): Reduces nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose.
  • Oxymetazoline (Afrin): Provides quick relief for nasal congestion but should not be used for more than three consecutive days to avoid rebound congestion.


  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed): Effective for relieving nasal stuffiness.
  • Phenylephrine (Sudafed PE): Also used to relieve nasal congestion, less effective than pseudoephedrine.

Eye Drops

  • Ketotifen (Alaway, Zaditor): Antihistamine eye drops that relieve itchy eyes usually caused by eye allergies.
  • Naphazoline/Pheniramine (Visine-A, Opcon-A): Combines a decongestant and an antihistamine for quick relief of redness and itchiness.
  • Olopatadine (Pataday, Patanol): Provides relief from itchy and watery eyes, effective for long-term use during allergy season.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots work by gradually increasing your tolerance to specific allergens. This reduces the inflammation in your nasal passages. Inflammation can narrow your airway and lead to snoring.

  • Allergy-induced snoring can be improved  – If your allergies are contributing to your snoring, allergy shots can be a very effective treatment. Studies have shown that allergy shots can significantly reduce snoring severity in people with allergic rhinitis.
  • Not a first-line treatment – Before trying allergy shots, most doctors will recommend more conservative treatments. These include lifestyle changes mentioned above and oral allergy medications. Allergy shots are typically reserved for people who have tried other treatments without success and whose snoring is confirmed to be allergy-related.

Allergies And Snoring: Summary

Allergies and snoring have a significant association, which emphasizes the need for proper evaluation in children and adults. Research has shown that there is a high prevalence of allergic sensitization in children with habitual snoring and OSA.

The presence of atopic diseases like asthma, atopic dermatitis, and allergic rhinitis are strongly associated with snoring. Having a better understanding of this association may help healthcare professionals in identifying patients at risk and tailoring personalized treatments to alleviate both allergy and snoring-related symptoms. Treatment usually starts at lifestyle changes and then medications.