Asthma—A Risk Factor for Sleep Apnea

Many are aware that sleep apnea is caused by constricted breathing at night. However, few know that asthma can be a major contributing factor of whether or not a patient will have symptoms of sleep apnea. What’s more, asthma can make the condition even more difficult for those who have trouble sleeping at night.

The association between asthma and sleep apnea

Asthma can affect your sleep apnea in a number of ways and vice versa. Sleep apnea can increase gastroesophageal reflux that contributes to weight gain, constricting air flow more than normal. This increased acid reflux can also include inflammation in the body and the lungs, and it tends to become much more worse at night time. Low oxygen levels caused by sleep apnea can add some strain to the heart. Overall, this can increase symptoms of both conditions and it can make it much more difficult to breathe.

Treatment for sleep apnea and asthma

The most common form of treatment for the combination of sleep apnea and asthma is continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP. While wearing a mask while sleeping, the patient is given a continuous stream of air that keeps airways from constricting and makes it easier for the patient to breathe. CPAP also reduces acid reflux and keeps the inflammation of the muscles and lungs down while increasing airflow.

Some might choose the treatment option of surgery, which tends to be a more permanent solution. A uvulopalatopharyngeoplasty usually involves the removal of the obstructed area so the patient can breathe better. It is a rare surgery, and many do not see the results that they want after it is completed.

Hope for the future

While CPAP is the best form of treatment currently available, the connection between sleep apnea and asthma is becoming more and more recognized. Doctors are now looking into new ways to treat patients and to form new, long-term solutions. Because the symptoms of one condition tend to exacerbate the other, the patient can often stop breathing in the middle of the night with no one to make sure he or she is alright. Those with asthma might not initially have sleep apnea, but it tends to develop within eight years of being diagnosed.

If you feel you are struggling with asthma and sleep apnea, the best thing to do is to contact your doctor. He or she can set you up with a sleeping test in order to determine whether you are at risk of suffering from sleep apnea.

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