Nocturnal asthma

Nocturnal asthma

Sometimes, asthma can be so harsh and dangerous that it kills. Studies show that most asthma-related deaths happen during the nighttime(Nocturnal asthma).

Additional problems caused by nocturnal asthma are weaker performance at work or school, chronical tiredness, and others.

Nocturnal asthma is characterized as worse and more dangerous asthma symptoms during the night.

Why does it happen?

Technically, the answer to this question doesn’t exist. Doctors and medical experts aren’t 100% sure of what causes nocturnal asthma. There are certain theories, but nobody knows for sure. It’s most likely some sort of mix of the following:

  • Presence of your triggers inside your sleeping area. The most obvious cause of nocturnal asthma would be that there is a high presence of your triggers in your room.
  • Lung function declines while sleeping. When you fall asleep, your body automatically decreases your lung function. Your airways narrow, and your breathing pattern changes slightly.
  • Sleep apnea. This sleeping disorder can be one of the reasons nocturnal asthma happens. Sleep apnea increases airway inflammation and can make your asthma worse, both during the night, and overall. Sleep apnea and asthma can be a very troubling combination.
  • GERD(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). GERD is an asthma trigger in some people. Due to the stomach acid movement caused by GERD, you can have both increased asthma symptoms, and worse asthma management in general.
  • Hormones. While you’re asleep, your body goes through an array of hormonal changes. Feeling ‘sleepy’ itself is a shift in hormone presence in your body. During the night, your body can release higher levels of cortisol, which can cause inflammation in your airways. After the increase of cortisol, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and other asthma symptoms soon follow.

Photo by Christopher Jolly on Unsplash

What can you do about it?

If you notice that asthma is frequently waking you up during the night, consult with your doctor immediately, even if the symptom in question is minor coughing episode. If your asthma is waking you up at night, it can be a sign of poor asthma management and control.

Letting your asthma go without sufficient treatment leads to airway remodeling. That’s a permanent change in your airways, making it harder to breathe all the time, even when you don’t have an asthma attack or flare-up.

The best way to try to prevent nocturnal asthma is to use preventive medication therapy. That should reduce inflammation in your airways overall.

Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash

A different method is to use quick-relief drugs that help open your constricted airways when you need it.

If you haven’t tested for dust mite, animal dander or mold allergy, you should get tested now, as these can help cause nocturnal asthma. Solution for having these allergies are dust mite-proof pillow cases, new mattresses, and allergy-proofing your bedroom.

It may take you some time to find the ‘perfect way’ to deal with nocturnal asthma, but at the end, it’s worth it.


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