Can Allergy Shots Cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

During a routine visit, a patient of mine commented that he noticed an interesting phenomenon whenever he checks his wife’s CPAP compliance data. Normally, her RDI hovers around 3-4, and she’s fine, but whenever it goes up to 7-8 or above, she’s more cranky, tired and irritable. In particular, these spikes correlate with the days immediately after she undergoes allergy shots.

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, is meant to cause a reaction by your immune system, and in the process, produces inflammation. If this inflammation and swelling occurs in her nose, then it’s conceivable that additionally nasal resistance can increased your CPAP pressure needs.

Inflammation or swelling caused by colds, allergies or infections of the nose can aggravate OSA by increasing vacuum pressures downstream, allowing the tongue to fall back more easily. This is one simple reason why you don’t sleep well when you have allergies or a cold.

Do you have similar experiences? Do you not sleep well after undergoing allergy shots?

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2 thoughts on “Can Allergy Shots Cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

  1. Experienced with hay fever season every year, causes high AHI. The culprits are “bottle brush flowers blooming and paper bark trees flowering season”. Reduce inflammation when ever there is a rain during the day especially in the morning with good moisture. Best place to live is close to seasides like SF and Coastal area with salt water, which is good for natural nasal cleansing. May install the water tower cooling system for positive purify air in premises to have positive effect, am interested, expensive but life is not cheap.

    Cheers

  2. I really would expect that they would. I have not had any allergy shots yet, but experience with the fact that illness, allergy, stress, or hydration all have a major part to play in how effective my CPAP therapy works has led me to nightly wear a pulse oximeter, record the audio, and work on other devices to monitor my therapy on a nightly basis. I have found that it varies a lot. I am pleased that even without CPAP (we recently had a power outage – very interesting data) I desaturaet less and less often, but I know that any AHI or awakening from difficulty with nighttime breathing moves death and disability a step closer. I suppose we all will eventually loose the battle but I do hope to keep it at bay as much and as long as possible.

    Regarding allergy shots and similar “exposure” type therapies. Well, I suppose for some they are helpful. What occurs to me is that when I experienced extreme physical trauma the doctor did a simple test (he asked me to walk a few days after the surgery) and based upon the results of that test was able to send me home – with the instructions NOT to lift more than ten pounds for several weeks. Frankly, I think that exposure to stress, whether it be physical such as lifting heavy objects, or training our immune system, or mental such as exposure to objects we saw at the time we experienced trauma needs to be tempered by a true understanding of the state of the object being stressed and it’s support systems. What I hope happens is that we learn to build up the systems, understand what stresses we can actually expect them to take and base our exposure regimens on understanding and so help rather than further hurt.