You're keeping her up all night—but not in the good way. Trouble sleeping? Blame your breathing. People with asthma were 70 percent more likel...
Trouble sleeping? Blame your breathing. People with asthma were 70 percent more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) after 8 years compared to asthma-free patients, according to new research presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference.
OSA is a condition in which you experience pauses in breathing during the night, impairing sleep quality. (You probably also snore like a truck.) When left untreated, OSA can lead to heart disease and stroke, and is associated with anxiety and depression.
Researchers aren’t quite sure why asthma gives way to apnea, though they have a few ideas. One possibility: When you take in corticosteroids (used to control asthma) via an inhaler, they may affect the fat distribution around your neck, potentially weakening airway muscles. Pressure during an asthma attack could also cause an upper airway collapse, says study researcher Mihaela Teodorescu, M.D., of University of Wisconsin.
Depending on the reason for the link, other respiratory disorders that are commonly treated with corticosteroids (like COPD), may also be associated with sleep apnea.
If you’ve got asthma, the common preventative advice for sleep apnea applies: maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, and exercise regularly. Also, make sure to treat nasal congestion, Dr. Teodorescu says. (Find relief with these best allergy medications.) Patients with asthma commonly have rhinitis—a.k.a. chronic sneezing or congestion—which may play a role in sleep apnea. And don’t forget to mention any sleep issues that arise to your doc, who could elect to test you for OSA.
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