If you are an Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) patient, then there is a high chance that you may have an ear problem too. A person having no sleep disorder may have ear related issues caused due to cold or allergy only for few days. However, if they have the condition of OSA, the inflammation in ears can last for many weeks or even months. This is because the inflammation in the throat or nose may cause swelling, which can increase obstructions leading to the stomach juices moving up the throat or nose, including Eustachian tube area in the ear.
Inflammation in the nose and ear can be caused due to many reasons like allergies, viral colds, acid reflux, and weather changes. A simple allergy or cold can affect your ear as well. In most cases, you may only experience two or three days of discomfort. However, in some situations, ears may get stuffed for weeks. The vacuum pressure thus created may cause fluids to accumulate in there, thereby giving rise to serous otitis media. This can then lead to a bacterial infection.
In addition, frequent arousals and obstructions in sleep during the nighttime may lead to an imbalance in the involuntary nervous system in which the nose becomes very sensitive to weather changes. This is known as chronic rhinitis. It is even seen that people who use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device to deal with OSA may get air blown into middle ears by means of pressure. This issue is quite a frustrating one and difficult to completely cure.
How to Treat the Condition
If you have sleep apnea and experiencing issues in the ear, first make sure to treat the OSA problem properly. When the CPAP pressure is very low or if the mouthpiece is not calibrated properly, you may have frequent arousals and disruptions in sleep. So make sure that your health care provider sees to it that there are no such issues.
If you have a chronic stuffy nose, there is a chance that may create a downstream vacuum effect that allows your tongue to fall back often while deep sleeping due to the relaxation of muscles. Due to this, nasal passageways can be either inflamed, narrow, or both, so check that your nasal breathing is not obstructed.
Moreover, make sure not to eat three to four hours before bedtime so that the inflammation is lowered. Two to three apnea episodes per hour is common in OSA patients, and that is enough to suction up stomach juices to your throat. Therefore, you need keep the juice and acidity volume as low as possible.