You think of asthma occurring during the day, like after a sporting event and sleep apnea during the night so it may come as a surprise that asthma and sleep apnea are related. Both are lung conditions that may impact your body all day and night. They also can contribute to one another, worsening symptoms. So, how exactly are they connected, and what should you do if you’re at risk?
Asthma And Sleep Apnea
Both asthma and sleep apnea are incredibly common. Asthma has been on the rise since the 1980s and affects more than 26 million Americans, including 8.3% of children while sleep apnea is found in over 22 million Americans.
These conditions are on the rise with every age group and demographic due to rising rates of air pollution, smog, allergens, particle/ irritants in the lungs, poor sleep, and obesity, even in children.
The Obesity Factor
Obesity is has a major role in both obstructive sleep apnea and asthma due to blocking the airways. When a patient lays down, the fatty tissue around their neck and throat can collapse, blocking the airways during sleep. But being obese also places more fat on and around the lungs, and can cause inflammation of the airways. Not being able to breathe during the night or during the day causes fatigue, worsens symptoms, and makes it difficult to exercise, creating a deadly cycle that leads to more weight gain.
How Asthma Contributes To Sleep Apnea
While asthma is normally viewed as a condition that takes place during the day time, symptoms can worsen during the night. When nocturnal asthma occurs, the airways struggle to pull enough oxygen into the lungs and may cause attacks during sleep. As a result, the airways become inflamed and restricted.
You may or may not wake up as your body acts to restore normal airflow, but these interruptions disrupt your normal sleep and prevent your body from getting necessary oxygen for proper rest, like sleep apnea.
Because asthma can lead to more apneas, or periods during sleep when you stop breathing, it can contribute to sleep deprivation as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, weight gain, depression, and more.
How Sleep Apnea Contributes To Asthma
When sleep apnea causes your breathing to stop during the night, when your body reacts by raising your pulse, tossing and turning, and more to restore airflow acid from the stomach can be suctioned up into the throat and airways.
As acid reflux burns your throat and airways the lungs may become inflamed, making it more difficult to draw in oxygen. This may also lead to your lungs becoming overreactive to allergens, fumes, and weather changes, worsening asthmatic symptoms. It may even lead to uncontrolled asthma.
Sleep deprivation contributes to hypersensitivity and can weaken the immune system, creating a cycle of poor sleep and health.
How A CPAP Can Help
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device provides a constant stream of air that holds your airways open during the night, allowing your body to get enough oxygen to mentally and physically heal your body.
Once people being CPAP therapy they experience reduced amounts of stress, more energy, better mood, less insulin sensitivity, a stronger immune system, and more. They can also help manage poorly controlled asthma by reducing body inflammation as well as other asthmatic symptoms.
Nebulizers for Children
Of course, if you have asthma and sleep apnea, you will need to regularly take your asthma medication as well. However, children may find it difficult to use an inhaler so nebulizers are often recommended instead.
Nebulizers send compressed air through a mask to turn medication into a mist that can easily be inhaled. This helps asthma medication directly enter the lungs for faster relief. Children will use this device for about 15 minutes per treatment and because pediatric nebulizers have fun designs such as firetrucks or kitty cats, children are able to still for the entire treatment!
Preventing Sleep Apnea And Asthma
In order to do your part towards getting your life back from sleep apnea and asthma, it’s important to actively manage these conditions. Take your medicine and use your CPAP every single day with moderate lifestyle changes for your health.
For example, watch what you eat. Reduce your intake of sugar, carbs, and junk food for healthier options like fruit, veggies, and whole grains to reduce your weight. Also, moderately exercise about three times a week by taking a walk or using an elliptical to burn fat and reduce stress.