Sleep Position Matters

I just saw a young man who complains of many months history of right-sided throat pain and swollen glands. Past medical history is significant for anxiety issues. He noted that he usually sleeps on his back. He also mentioned that he’s had a nagging right chest, and shoulder discomfort, which started around the same time as his throat problems. When asked how he slept prior to his problems began, he stated that he normally slept on his sides. He also complains of chronic post-nasal drip, throat clearing, and coughing. He also has a relatively small lower jaw. He eats late and complains of being tired all the time, no matter how long he sleeps.

His exam reveals severe tongue collapse when on his back with swelling and inflammation of the back of his voice box, consistent with a sleep-breathing, throat acid reflux problem aggravated by suddenly sleeping on his back. I recommended sleeping on his left side, not eating late, and practicing relaxing breathing exercises.

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