Breathing or lack of it at night is a common sign of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, which has only become recognized as a sleep disorder the last few decades, is caused by blockage in the back of the throat, by loose tissues in the throat or enlarged tonsils and tongue. A rarer version of sleep apnea called central sleep apnea is caused by signals sent to the brain. While sleep apnea is becoming more prevalent you need to check with your doctor to make sure it isn’t something else besides OSA. One possible condition could be nocturnal asthma.
What is nocturnal asthma?
According to asthma.about.com nocturnal asthma is “when asthma symptoms arise during the night. About 75% of people with asthma have symptoms that disrupt both the length and depth of their nighttime sleep at least once a week – a condition called nocturnal asthma.”
Nocturnal asthma can be caused by such things as a narrow airway which can trigger night time coughing. Allergens may also have an effect on nocturnal asthma. GERD can an influence on this as well.
Nocturnal asthma and sleep apnea are similar in many ways and often folks with one disorder also have the other. In fact nocturnal asthma can be confused with sleep apnea because of sleep interruption and the effect of lower oxygen. Since using the CPAP machine is the most popular way to cure sleep apnea it has also been shown that it will help with the nocturnal asthma as well.
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