Air Pollution & Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a pause in breathing during sleep. The pauses can last just a few seconds up to several minutes and can occur up to 30 times per hour. Normal breathing resumes after the pause, but there is usually a snort or choking sound when breathing resumes. It is a chronic condition and it can be fatal. It prevents quality sleep from occurring and it is often related to weight. It is also believed to be the leading cause of daytime fatigue.

The condition can be difficult to diagnose unless a patient spends time at a sleep clinic. Symptoms can mimic those of other diseases and patients sometimes visit the doctor because they are tired or experiencing other problems in addition to sleep apnea. The most common cause of sleep apnea is a collapsed airway. The blockage causes shallow breathing and complete pauses in breathing. Typically, people who are overweight experience this type of sleep apnea. It is different from central sleep apnea which occurs when the area of the brain that controls breathing does not send signals to the breathing muscles. Most people who experience central sleep apnea do not snore.

Untreated sleep apnea is a serious problem and can increase a person’s risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It can also worsen heart failure and make the occurrence of irregular heartbeats more likely. Because it worsens fatigue, it can also increase the chances of car crashes and work-related accidents. Allergies can worsen problems with sleep apnea.

Many people use a CPAP machine to cope with their sleep apnea, but if they suffer from allergies, the CPAP machine may not solve the problem. Symptoms of sleep apnea often mimic those of allergies because they cause breathing issues. Even people who have not identified a specific allergy might suffer from chronic rhinitis, which is linked to sleep breathing problems. A person with chronic rhinitis is sensitive to odors, pressure changes, and temperature. People might confuse the symptoms of chronic rhinitis, allergies, or sleep apnea, but it is possible for all three to be an issue for someone.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and allergies or chronic rhinitis are worsening the problem, there are several things you can do in addition to using your CPAP. If the level of allergens are high, stay indoors as much as possible. Shower and wash your hair before going to bed if you have spent any time outdoors during the day. This rinses away the pollen that builds up and contaminates your pillow at night.

Use an air filter in your bedroom. An air filter removes allergens from the space and makes it easier to breath. Cleaner air with a purifier can make a major difference in the quality of a person’s sleep. A purifier filters all types of allergens out of the air, so it does not matter what causes your allergies.

It is possible to get a good night of sleep, even if you suffer from sleep apnea that is aggravated by allergies. Learn what changes you can make to your environment and invest in a quality air filter for your home. An air purifier can help with sleep apnea.

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