This is one of the first connections that I pointed out, even before my book was published. So it’s not surprising that still another study links obstructive sleep apnea with poorly controlled asthma. The study authors from University of Wisconsin recommended that all patients with poorly controlled asthma be screened for obstructive sleep apnea. My question is, why not EVERYONE with significant asthma?
Just to review, there are two possible ways obstructive sleep apnea can cause or aggravate asthma. The first is from direct stomach juice exposure. Apneas can suction up your normal stomach juices into your ears, nose, and lungs. Studies have shown pepsin (a digestive enzyme) and H. pylori (a stomach bacteria) in lung washings. All these substances can irritate the lungs.
Another possible mechanism is that frequent arousals causes your nervous system to become heightened, making the nervous system in your lungs overly sensitive to weather changes, chemicals, smoke, irritants and even exercise. This is similar to nonallergic rhinitis, in which your nose is overly sensitive to weather change, chemicals, scents or odors. This is also where the “one-airway, one-disease” concept comes in. Your upper and lower airways are ultimately all connected. Then there are studies that link asthma to reflux, and reflux to nonallergic rhinitis…
Some of my patients have told me that their asthma has improved since treating their sleep apnea. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, do you also have asthma? Please enter your response in the text area below.