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How Does Asthma Impact Sleep?

Dr. Ranjit Grewal is a family medicine specialist who welcomes patients of all ages to his busy practice in Cypress, Texas. This native Houstonian is well known for his exceptional medical skills, patient-focused attitude, and commitment to providing outstanding primary care services.

Read what Dr. Grewal says about the sleep difficulty associated with asthma and the treatments that can help.

Understanding asthma

Asthma is a common condition that causes airways within the lungs to swell and narrow in response to certain irritants or substances in the environment. It may also be related to exercise or stress.

Most individuals with asthma experience periodic flare-ups that make it difficult to breathe. An asthma flare-up can become life-threatening without appropriate treatment.  

While it often develops in childhood, asthma can occur at any age. It’s a chronic condition for which there is no cure. The goal for treatment is to manage the condition by reducing asthma flare-ups and providing rapid relief when they do occur.

Asthma and sleep

Asthma is often categorized according to the substance or irritant that’s causing it, which may include:

Some individuals with asthma experience worsening coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness at night. Physicians call this “nocturnal asthma.”

Nighttime asthma attacks may be due to airway changes related to your sleeping positioning, obstructive sleep apnea, or irritating substances in the room such as dust mites or pet dander.

Regardless of the cause, nocturnal asthma can make it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep. Unfortunately, too little sleep can worsen asthma control according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 

This can lead to a frustrating cycle of poor sleep due to asthma and more frequent asthma attacks due to poor sleep.

Treating nocturnal asthma

There are many effective treatments available for asthma. Most individuals keep a fast-acting inhaler (bronchodilator) on hand to use as necessary for an attack. These medications can open airways within moments of use. Other asthma medications, typically taken daily, provide long-term control but do not offer fast relief during a flare-up.

It’s also important to identify and avoid the substance, irritants, or activities that trigger your asthma attacks. In the case of nocturnal asthma, it may take some investigation to determine what triggers your flare-ups.

Depending on your symptoms, Dr. Grewal may suggest tightening your asthma control by starting a daily medication or making changes to your current regimen. He might also recommend allergy testing or an evaluation for sleep apnea to help pinpoint the cause of your sleeping difficulty.

Regardless of what’s causing your nighttime asthma symptoms, Dr. Grewal can help. Schedule an evaluation today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online. 

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