Asthma Rates Spike, Helped By Sleep Apnea?

Researchers are puzzled as to why there seems to be a significant rise on rates of asthma in children compared to previous years. A new study released from the CDC reported that nearly one in 10 children and one in 12 Americans have asthma. From 2001 to 2009, the overall rate of asthma increased 12.3%. In 2007, it cost $57 billion to care for asthma patients.

Despite lower rates of smoking and second-hand smoke, the prevalence of asthma increased in all demographic groups, including men, women, whites, blacks, and Hispanics. Possible reasons for this sudden increase include various allergens, traffic fumes, pesticides, certain plastics, diet and obesity.

Here’s one more possibility: Obstructive sleep apnea. We know that children are more overweight than ever, and along with this it’s expected that sleep apnea will increase as well. Multiple breathing pauses at night can literally suction up your stomach juices into your throat, which can then reach your nose or your lungs. This causes your nose and your lungs to become inflamed and overreactive to allergies, fumes, and even weather changes. Lack of deep sleep also causes your nervous system and your immune system to become hypersensitive, aggravating this vicious cycle.

Notice how it’s not just asthma rates that are going up. Many of the other childhood related conditions are going up as well: obesity, ADHD, autism, allergies, etc. These are all part of the same continuum that unfortunately, are treated as independent conditions. With multiple breathing pauses at night, any of these conditions can occur or aggravate an already existing condition.

If you have asthma, how many of you can’t sleep on your back? (I’ll tell you why I ask this question a bit later.)



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3 thoughts on “Asthma Rates Spike, Helped By Sleep Apnea?

  1. I have both asthma and OSA. Now that my OSA, is being treated by cpap my asthma symptons have decreased significantly. Before, cpap my asthma was difficult to treat even with strong meds. I was never able to sleep on my back and only sleep on my stomach and sides.

  2. Last week I had an anxiety attack after running. I had heat exhaustion but became convinced that I was going to die because I felt “smothered”. This is the first time I ever had an official panic attack. Looking back, I believe that I have experienced feeling “off” many times. I have just always chalked it up to lack of sleep due to my asthma/allergies or worry related to caring for my small children (I often check on them throughout the night). I have experienced several episodes of dysphagia over the years which seemed to have increased in frequency and severity. I have always assumed this was just a genetic issue as my father says it happens to him too. Recently my mother had a sleep study and the results were indicative of OSA. She told me that I should also undergo a sleep study. After researching OSA I am thinking it is highly likely this is my problem. My wife has complained for years about me moving around all night long in bed. I’d appreciate your thoughts on if OSA seems like a reasonable diagnosis for my symptoms as I’d like to regain my energy, decrease my worry, and allow my wife to sleep better too.

  3. My friend’s 7-year-old son had nighttime asthma that completely resolved after tonsillectomy. My friend and her spouse were completely mystified by this (as they had tried numerous remedies beforehand to no avail). Now we know!