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Can Allergies Cause Sleep Apnea

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Dr. David Soria Q& A: Child allergies, sleep apnea & insomnia

OSA is a sleep condition caused by breathing issues, resulting in disturbed sleep. When you have this condition, when youre sleeping, the upper airway is blocked.

The blockage can be small or large, causing you to search for air. Your brain is supposed to receive the message to breathe when this happens, but then you stop breathing when sleeping.

After not breathing, you wake up most of the time and recover your breathing pattern. This, however, disrupts your sleep and causes you to fail to reach that critical stage of deep sleep.

Why Should I Seek An Evaluation For My Sinusitis And Sleep Apnea

When the sinus cavities have difficulty draining, it can lead to sinusitis thats chronic or recurrent . This could be an indication of an underlying anatomical issue. This same issue could be whats causing your airway to become partially or completely blocked during sleep, leading to sleep apnea.

In cases where sinusitis is caused by allergies or a common cold, medication and nasal sprays can often effectively treat the problem.

However, if an anatomical problem is the cause of your symptoms, conservative treatments such as medication will rarely provide much relief. Some of the most common anatomical issues include nasal polyps, blocked or narrow sinus openings, or a deviated septum.

If an anatomical issue is at the root of your symptoms, a minimally invasive procedure can often correct the underlying issue and thus resolve your symptoms. This can provide substantial relief and reduce your chances of developing long-term chronic health issues that have been associated with sleep apnea, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

We Can Benefit From More Research

Response from Lorene Alba, AE-C:

According to a study published in JAMA* in 2015, asthma was associated with an increased risk of new-onset obstructive sleep apnea . Over the full study period, the team concluded that asthma patients faced an almost 40 percent greater risk for sleep apnea than asthma-free participants. The study definitely suggests more research is needed to see if one condition causes the other.

Asthma does not cause snoring, but a stuffy nose from allergies can, so take your allergy medicine as directed and reduce dust mites and other allergens in your bedroom. If you are having nighttime asthma symptoms such as restlessness, coughing or feeling panicky more than 2X a month talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms to make sure your asthma is under good control.

Recommended Reading: What Allergy Medicine Is Stronger Than Zyrtec

Sleep Disorders Linked To Allergies

Insomnia More Common in People With Hay Fever and Other Allergies, Study Shows

Sept. 19, 2006 — Hay fever may make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.

A new study shows people with allergic rhinitis from hay fever and other types of allergiesallergies have more difficulty sleeping and are more than twice as likely to suffer from sleep disorderssleep disorders such as insomniainsomnia.

Researchers say both allergies and sleep disorders are common conditions, but this is the first study to specifically look at whether the two might be related.

Allergies affect from 20% to 50% of Americans and occur when pollen or other allergens, such as pet dander or dust, irritate and inflame the nasal passages, causing symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.

Sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apneasleep apnea , and excessive daytime sleepiness, affect up to 30% of the population.

Avoid Alcohol And Caffeine

Can Allergies Cause Sleep Apnea?

Adjusting certain aspects of your nightly routine can help reduce the symptoms that are making it difficult to sleep. Its important to avoid both alcohol and caffeine before going to bed. Alcohol may seem like a good idea to help you sleep, but alcohol, and wine specifically, can actually make you more congested and contribute to your sinus pain or pressure. Experts recommend cutting off before 2:00 pm if you have any trouble sleeping. Caffeine also makes you dehydrated which can aggravate the sinuses and throat, worsening symptoms.

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Allergies And Sleep Apnea: The Cpap Connection

However, when discussing allergies and sleep apnea, another factor often comes into play: Allergic reactions can disrupt the CPAP therapy often used to treat sleep apnea.

Manufacturers of CPAP masks and sleep apnea therapy equipment have taken steps to help you get around potential problems caused by the presence of both sleep apnea and allergies. For instance, if allergies make breathing through your nose difficult, youre more likely to experience effective treatment from a full face mask than from a nasal pillows mask. While a nasal mask only delivers air through your nose, a full face mask covers your mouth and nose, ensuring that you still receive air whether your nose is congested or not.

In addition, advanced CPAP technology in the form of APAP or automatic positive airway pressure, as we recently discussed can help people who have both allergies and sleep apnea. How? Allergies can cause your breathing to fluctuate throughout the night, and APAP is designed to deliver different amounts of air as needed to keep up with those fluctuations.

If your allergies are interfering with your sleep apnea therapy, we encourage you to talk to your doctor or sleep therapist about possible solutions, such as switching to a different CPAP mask, or a different type of PAP therapy machine.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

Tips To Improve Sleep During Allergy Season

  • Take allergy medication. Nasal congestion causes the upper airway to narrow, increasing the risk of both snoring and OSA among those with allergic rhinitis. By treating the nasal inflammation with allergy medication on a regular basis, you may improve the quality of your sleep. This is especially important for those with sleep apnea who find it hard to use their CPAP devices because of nasal congestion.
  • Consider different medications. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes, and oral decongestants can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, but should only be used for a few days in a row, as they can actually worsen nasal congestion over time. Some oral allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant, which may offer the best solution for a good nights sleep.
  • Rinse your nasal passages. Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose.
  • Be smart about spending time outdoors. Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers by limiting time outside on dry, windy days . Also, be aware that pollen counts are often at their highest in the early morning.
  • Control your environment. Close your windows at night when you sleep, and use air conditioning in your house and car.
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    Where Can I Get Treatment For My Sinusitis And Sleep Apnea In Houston

    Dr. Yeung can determine the exact cause of your symptoms and explain the available treatments that can address your problem. Hes one of the top Houston ENT physicians and sinus specialists and is known for his professionalism for leading the way in functional endoscopic sinus surgery. In fact, he pioneered the use of this surgery in Houston and has performed over 4,000 highly successful sinus surgeries.

    Dr. Yeung offers a successful, minimally invasive approach to treating sinus diseases. If youre suffering from sinusitis and sleep apnea, schedule a consultation today.

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    Do Apnea Devices Help With Allergies

    Allergies, Poor Sleep, and Sleep Disorders

    Obstructive sleep apnea is often treated with CPAP masks or devices. These ensure that your airways receive a steady stream of air and stop them from collapsing. As a result, you experience fewer sleep interruptions and have a more restful sleep.

    Allergies cannot only affect the symptoms of sleep apnea, but can also interfere with some forms of CPAP treatment. For example, if you struggle with nose congestion because of seasonal allergies, using a CPAP nasal mask may be uncomfortable.

    But thats not to say that you have to put up with restless sleep. Because theres a connection between allergies and apnea and their symptoms are similar, treating one condition can help the other.

    Recommended Reading: Can Allergies Cause Shortness Of Breath And Chest Tightness

    Snoring And Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    Loud snoring combined with periods during which breathing frequently stops, is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea . Serious OSA can result in breathing interruptions lasting more than ten seconds each, occurring multiple times an hour. This pattern can continue through the night as the individual tries to sleep. OSA can result in reduced blood oxygen levels, leading to problems with the cardiovascular system, and daytime fatigue which can affect work and lifestyle. ENT and Allergy Specialists now offers an At-Home Sleep Study that can help diagnose OSA.

    The Link Between Spring Allergies And Sleep Apnea

    Spring is in full swing, which means that more than 50 million Americans are having to deal with allergies. If youre an allergy sufferer, you probably know that this condition can interfere with your daily activities, and also with your ability to get a good nights sleep.

    Theres another condition that can impair your nightly rest: obstructive sleep apnea. This disorder causes people to stop breathing multiple times every night, and is also very common in America. According to the latest data, more than 22 million people in the US have a form of sleep apnea.

    Because restful sleep is crucial to our health, its important to answer some questions about these two conditions.

    First, well look at whether spring allergies can actually cause obstructive sleep apnea — a condition in which airways close up repeatedly during sleep. These pauses in sleep, called apneas, rob the body and brain of oxygen, which takes a toll on overall health.

    Also Check: How To Sleep Better With Allergies

    Can Sinus Issues Cause Difficulty Sleeping

    We all know sinus issues and symptoms can cause discomfort, but they can also lead to difficulty sleeping, or even serious insomnia. Nasal congestion, usually a stuffy or runny nose due to excessive mucus production, can be caused by various sinus issues including nasal polyps, enlarged turbinates and deviated septum. Laying down flat and sleeping naturally relaxes the muscles in your throat and causes mucus to pool in the nasal cavities, leading to which congestion can lead to coughing, trouble breathing, snoring, or even more serious sleep apnea.

    When the inflammation and irritation in the sinus airways become a troublesome infection, this is termed Sinusitis. Sinusitis is caused and worsened by swelling in the nasal air passages, often leading to pain or pressure around the nose, eyes, cheeks or forehead. These symptoms of sinus issues and swelling can make getting a restful nights sleep nearly impossible.

    If you are having difficulty sleeping along with symptoms of a sinus issue or sinusitis infection, you may also experience the following:

    • Nasal or facial pressure

    What Is Sleep Apnea

    Snoring &  Disturbed Sleep in Children

    Sleep apnea is a serious disorder thats characterized by repeated pauses in your breathing while you sleep. Each pause can last from about 10 seconds to minutes at a time. These pauses can occur 30 or more times an hour, leading to sleep thats seriously disrupted. It also disrupts how your body takes in oxygen, interfering with blood flow into your arteries and brain.

    This disorder occurs when something completely or partially blocks your upper airway. As a result, you may gasp for air and snore at night. In fact, chronic snoring is the symptom that most often prompts a person to seek medical attention for sleep apnea.

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    Why Do Allergies Affect My Sleep

    When you sleep, your body naturally tries to breathe through the nose. But if your nasal passages are blocked with congestion, youre forced to breathe through your mouth instead. This causes the soft structures in the back of your mouth to vibrate, creating the sound of snoring.

    Snoring alone is not a serious health problem, as it does not affect breathing. Snoring has not been proven to cause other medical conditions, and it is generally just a nuisance .

    Obstructive sleep apnea, on the other hand, can be serious. With this disorder, your breathing is often interrupted and sometimes briefly stops. This limits the oxygen that your brain and body needs.

    Sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea, can greatly diminish the quality of life and lead to serious health problems, says Stewart Adam, MD, FACS.

    Allergies And Cpap: Make Your Mask Work For You

    Some people with apnea may be tempted to stop using CPAP until their allergies go away. This would be a mistake. For one, its never wise to stop your treatment, even for a day if you can avoid it. But also, continuing with your therapy provides a huge benefit that can actually help improve your allergy symptoms: the humidification chamber.

    The job of the CPAP humidifier is to provide moisture to your nasal passages and upper airway. Moist nasal passages are less likely to trigger sneezes. If your nose and sinuses are kept lubricated, your body doesnt need to provide as much mucous, either. Using the humidifier is a win-win: it makes your apnea therapy more effective and it gives your body extra support when dealing with allergies during sleep. Typical allergy symptoms like a dry, scratchy throat, a cough, a runny nose, or an attack of sneezes will be less likely to wake you in the night.

    However, even with the CPAP humidifier on, allergy sufferers with apnea may still have trouble breathing. If youve tried all the above techniques and youre still having difficulty getting enough oxygen, switching from a nasal pillow or nasal-only style mask to a full face mask may help. Full-face masks provide adequate air pressure to keep your airways open whether youre breathing in through your nose or mouth . Once your allergy symptoms have resolved, you can switch back to your preferred mask style.

    Further Reading

    Also Check: Can You Take Allergy Medicine With Antibiotics

    Treating Allergies At Night

    If allergies are keeping you awake at night, you’re not alone.

    In one study, only 17% of patients with allergies rated their sleep as optimal. About half of all people in the study said allergies and nasal congestion woke them up at night and also made it hard to fall asleep.

    Why does it matter?

    • Sleep deprivation is a stress that has significant consequences, such as high blood pressure and heart complications, as well as psychological consequences.
    • Sleep deprivation affects every part of your life from your relationships to your ability to think and be productive to your income.

    The Statistics Of Sleep

    What Causes Sleep Apnea & How to Get Rid of it? รข Home Remedies by Dr.Berg

    Twenty-two million people struggle with sleep apnea everyyear and allergies can make it much worse. Allergic rhinitis is when pollen,molds, pet dander, or other allergens are inhaled and then irritate the nasalpassages. This leads to watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, and sneezing, and canpossibly lead to obstructive sleep apnea . Symptoms of allergies havealways affected sleep patterns, and they are linked directly with sleep apnea.

    Allergy-induced sleep apnea and sleep apnea, in general, isa disorder that causes your breathing to be interrupted while you sleep. Yourairway fails to stay open which causes increased chances in daytime tirednessand health issues that include heart disease and stroke. The risk of OSAincreases dramatically with nasal congestion caused by airborne allergens.

    Also Check: Can Pollen Make You Nauseous

    How Does Allergic Rhinitis Affect My Quality Of Your Sleep

    Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever symptoms, include sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose and itchy eyes. Its the nasal congestion that can be a real problem, particularly if you have sleep apnea. It means that your nose is blocked, and your mouth is likely to be dry too both these issues can cause those sleep apneas to occur more frequently.

    Similarly, some types of allergy can cause other sorts of reactions. If tonsils and adenoids swell, the airway can become obstructed. Again, this can lead to more apneas. Its not surprising that research has found that people with allergic rhinitis have more frequent and longer obstructive sleep apneas.

    Seasonal Allergies And Cpap Problems: Treat Your Symptoms First

    The best way to maintain your CPAP effectiveness when youre suffering from allergies is to address the underlying allergy itself. If you have seasonal hay-fever or allergic rhinitis, you can take some simple steps to help reduce your allergies and treat their symptoms.

    • Limit your exposure to pollen. Though its frustrating to stay indoors on a beautiful day , you can improve your symptoms by going outside when the pollen count is a bit lower. Times to avoid being outdoors: early mornings , windy days, dry days.
    • Keep your home allergen-free. Vacuum and dust regularly to keep the presence of indoor allergens to a minimum. Wash your bed linens frequently, too, and dry them indoors instead of on a clothesline. Keep windows and doors shut. If you run air conditioning or forced air heat, make sure your filters are fresh and properly functioning.
    • Keep pets out of bed. Keeping your dog or cat out of your bed is good sleep hygiene at all times of the year. But if Fido or Mr. Whiskers is an outdoor pet, its particularly important to banish him during allergy season. Pollen on hair or fur can get transferred to your sheets and pillows, making your symptoms worse.
    • Change out of outdoor clothes. If youve been outside doing yard work or exercising, change into fresh, clean clothes when you come back indoors.
    • Using a humidifier by your bed at night can help put moisture into the air. Taking hot showers or using a steam bath may also help to clear your sinuses.

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