ZocdocAnswersWhy do my sinuses stuff up only at night and upstairs?

Question

Why do my sinuses stuff up only at night and upstairs?

I have had issues with my sinuses for about 15 years now. After 2 deviated septum surgeries, I still have a clogged nose at night. The clogging/stuffiness occurs on the nostril side that I lay down on. I literally have to turn over on my pillow to get the stuffiness to subside. Additionally, my nose is not stuffy on my first floor of my house. Once I go upstairs at night, I can instantly feel the pressure and stuffiness come on. This has happened in the 5 residences that I have lived in the past 10-15 years...so it's not the house. What causes this? Is it something about the air at elevated heights?

Answer

I am sorry to hear that you have been having issues with your sinuses for about 15 years, and that even after having two different septoplasties, you are still suffering from nasal obstruction. I am happy to give you some information about nasal obstruction, and to give you a couple of thoughts about what might be going on, but ultimately I am going to recommend that you make an appointment to be seen by an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) physician. They will be able to examine you, and ask more questions which I am not able to do in this setting. My first thought is that there is something called the nasal cycle which is a normal process where structures (some areas on the septum, and the turbinates) swell on one side of your nose, while the other sides shrink. The turbinates are like radiators in your nose that function to warm and moisturize air as you breathe it before it make it down to your lungs. This typically cycles every 3 hours or so (this is why at any given time during the day you can breathe better through one side than the other). It is possible that this is why you have a hard time breathing through one side of your nose at night. It is true that elevation changes can cause swelling, but the difference in one floor of your house to another isn't nearly enough to cause such a change. Again, please speak with an ENT and good luck.

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