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Question 27

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Question 27- My husband has problems breathing through mouth during sleep.


I am asking regarding a very strange sleeping disorder that my husband suffers. I have looked through different forums and have not found quite the same disorder. At different times during the night, my husband uses his mouth for breathing. I’m not sure if it is during all the night or just during the problematic periods (I will check tonight), but during this phase he has no problem breathing in but a big problem breathing out.

He keeps his mouth shut. It is not just that I can hear this but on thousands of occasions have seen it too. His mouth fills with the air he is trying to blow out but he does not open his mouth, so that his mouth completely fills and his cheeks bulge. Maybe a little air escapes through his lips before he then takes another breath in.

Maybe he takes 2 or even 3 breaths in before the pressure is such that his mouth “gives way”, opens and the air comes flooding out. For a short moment, before the air comes flooding out I would say that his breathing actually stops.

The strange thing is that he does not have any nasal congestion. In fact, if I am awake during these phases, I only have to whisper “breathe” and he will open his mouth and let the air out or sometimes I whisper “breathe through your nose” and he will let all the air out through his nose. He has absolutely no memory of me saying this the next morning.

Do you think it is necessary for him to see a specialist? It is only during short phases when he does this. It is not when he is in a deep sleep (I think), only in the before and after stages of deep sleep (I think). He doesn’t keep me awake, the only thing is that he is always tired and I think this might be a factor.

Not sure really as he grinds his teeth too and has problems with sleeping in general. Any advice would be appreciated as it is going to be really difficult for me to get him to see a specialist.

Thank you,

Answer Provided by Sandman
November 15, 2008

From everything you have mentioned I'd say this is sleep apnea. Problems breathing from the mouth or nostrils are a result of sleep apnea. With OSA it is easy to breath in and hard to breath out. 

There is no way of knowing what stage of sleep he is in when this occurs without a sleep study. He should have an consult with a sleep specialist. Let him know that the longer he waits to see a sleep specialist the greater the chances of having a stroke, heart attack, and brain damage.

Best wishes and Sweet dreams,


Disclaimer, I am not an MD and my opinions should not be taken as medical advice. If you feel that you need assistance with medications and/or diagnosis, you should seek medical advice from a qualified physician.

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