Sleep Apnea May Worsen Asthma Symptoms

If you have sleep apnea and asthma, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Asthma found that patients with asthma had obstructive sleep apnea 19.2 to 60 percent of the time, and that patients with severe asthma had sleep apnea from 50 to 95 percent of the time. And it doesn’t bode well for patients with both, because the study found that when someone has both conditions, they had more severe asthma attacks than patients without sleep apnea.

Another factor contributing to the more severe asthma symptoms? The patient’s weight. Those who had a higher body mass index, or BMI, or who suffered from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) had worse symptoms than those with a lower BMI. The study also noted that up to 64 percent of patients with asthma are reportedly obese, which is a major contributing factor in obstructive sleep apnea.

So, what can be done to curb this problem? Researchers point to dietary changes in obese patients to help lower the BMI and get to a healthier target weight. But studies on lowering the weight to lessen the severity of asthma symptoms have been thus far inconclusive.

That being said, we do know that losing weight can and frequently does help with obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, so even if there is no solid evidence supporting the asthma and weight-loss link, it is still wise to get to a healthy weight either way.

Another way to potentially help lessen asthma symptoms is to treat the sleep apnea. There are several effective methods for doing this, but often people do not like the old standby, CPAP therapy, and do not wear their device as recommended. This renders CPAP therapy useless, as it only works if you wear the mask each night.

The good news is you no longer have to rely on CPAP therapy to treat sleep apnea. Sleep orthotics have been found to be more effective at propping open the airway for patients with sleep apnea, all without the uncomfortable sleep mask and complicated machinery. A sleep orthotic is comfortable, so you’re more likely to use it each night, making it an excellent alternative to CPAP therapy, and hopefully improving your co-morbid asthma symptoms, too.

To learn more about sleep orthotics, please contact Dr. Mingus at 541-382-6565.