Learning objectives: The purpose of this review is to highlight fundamental aspects of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and to present an overview of the medical literature that pertains to the clinical interplay between various allergy-related disorders, nasal patency, and OSA. This should enable the reader to play a more proactive role in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of OSA.
Data sources: Relevant reviews, texts, and articles. The MEDLINE database was used to find related literature.
Conclusions: In predisposed individuals, OSA, sleep fragmentation, and the sequelae of disturbed sleep often result from nasal obstruction. Since breathing through the nose appears to be the preferred route during sleep, nasal obstruction frequently leads to nocturnal mouth breathing, snoring, and ultimately to OSA. Allergists can thus play a vital role in assessing sleep problems in their patients with allergic rhinitis and other upper respiratory disorders, in treating these problems more aggressively, and in some instances, in preventing them.