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What Makes Asthma Worse At Night

How Do You Calm An Asthma Attack

Why Asthma and Allergies are Worse at Night…

A reliever inhaler is the best treatment for an asthma attack, but in case one isnt on hand, sit upright and force yourself to take long, deep breaths. It improves lung function, wont irritate airways, and slows your breathing, preventing hyperventilation. If symptoms worsen, seek emergency medical help immediately.

Video: Asthma And Your Sleep

Transcript for Asthma and your sleep

0:04 We hear from a lot of people on our

0:07 helpline and on social media that asthma does

0:10 interrupt their sleep on a

0:11 regular basis. As a health care

0:13 professional I know that unfortunately,

0:14 this means that your asthma is not quite

0:16 as well controlled as it can be. And it’s

0:18 worth making appointment with your GP or

0:20 your practice nurse to see what we can

0:21 do to help relieve those symptoms and

0:24 actually improve your quality of sleep.

Why Are Asthma Symptoms Worse At Night

Oftentimes, people who suffer from asthma state that their asthma symptoms get worse at night when they are trying to sleep. There could be many explanations as to why asthma symptoms might be worse at night. One logical reason for your asthma symptoms to be worse when you go to bed is because you are supine. Your body is horizontal, and gravity is not assisting your breathing as much. The weight of your body is pressing down onto your airways. When you sleep the airways to your lungs tend to constrict, which can cause breathing difficulties at night.

Some people have more of a problem with acid reflux at night, which could be a trigger for your asthma. With acid reflux, people often have to clear their throat. If you are frequently trying to clear your throat, this could possibly make your asthma symptoms worse. It is very possible that you could aspirate the contents of acid reflux into your bronchial tubes, which would start you to coughing and wheezing, which is your bodys way of trying to clear your airways. As you cough and wheeze your bronchioles may go into bronchospasms.

If your asthma symptoms are related to a sleep disorder, your doctor will need to diagnose your problem and then treat you accordingly. Your doctor may have you during your sleep, which is called a sleep study. You go to a sleep lab where you will be monitored during your sleep. Your doctor may order a special apparatus for you to wear at night to assist you with your breathing at night.

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Tips To Prevent Nighttime Asthma Attacks

Nighttime asthma attacks can be controlled. Take these steps to sleep better with severe asthma.

Many people with severe asthma find that symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness are worse at night. There are a number of reasons why this is so, says Sonali Bose, MD, an assistant professor in the division of medicine, pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Some key factors that contribute to nighttime asthma attacks include:

  • Your bodys internal clock. Your circadian rhythm causes some of your hormone levels to fall at night. Lower levels of hormones can cause your airways to narrow slightly. These narrowed airways can exacerbate your asthma symptoms, according to the Asthma Society of Canada .
  • Dust mites. Your pillows, blankets, and mattress can all be a haven for these microscopic insect-like pests and their waste. Allergies to dust mites can worsen asthma, and you could be wallowing in them as you sleep, according to the ASC.
  • Gravity. When you lie down, your chest and lungs naturally experience extra pressure, the ASC says.

What Is An Asthma Attack

Asthma Cough Night

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, asthma attacks occur when an inflammation or obstruction of the bronchial tubes exists. Since these tubes allow air to enter and leave the lungs, asthma happens when air movement in and out of the lungs is restricted.

Asthma attacks are most commonly recognized by severe wheezing, consistent coughing and rapid breathing. However, people experiencing asthma attacks may also notice tightness in their chest and neck. If not enough oxygen reaches their lungs, then they may turn pale and their lips and fingernails could turn blue.

Asthma symptoms vary from person to person, but you can control them with a proper prevention routine. If your asthma is under control, then the likelihood of you experiencing an asthma attack decreases, Carrillo said.

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S To Ease An Asthma Attack

Treating an asthma attack without an inhaler is very difficult. However, in the absence of an inhaler, you can follow these steps on the way to seek medical attention:

  • During an asthma attack, the patient should try to remove the trigger , stop any form of exercise, and try to breathe slowly to prevent any further irritation.
  • Big, long, and slow breaths help to prevent hyperventilation and allow for better air movement.
  • Preventing panic is also important in order to not hyperventilate. Sitting upright helps with improving air movement.
  • Caffeine from tea or coffee has also been shown to reduce airway inflammation and help asthma symptoms potentially. Therefore, a warm caffeinated beverage may also help reduce airway hyperresponsiveness and symptoms.

Take Action Now To Lower Your Risk Of An Asthma Attack

If youre getting more asthma symptoms its a sign that your airways are getting more inflamed and narrow. This makes it harder for air to get through and means an asthma attack is more likely.

The sooner you can treat the inflammation in your airways, the sooner you can lower your risk of an asthma attack.

See your doctor today

  • Ask the receptionist for an urgent same day appointment. Tell them your asthmas getting worse and you need to see a GP or asthma nurse for urgent advice to avoid having an asthma attack.
  • If you cant get an urgent same day appointment, or your GP surgery is closed, . They may be able to arrange for you to be seen at a walk-in centre or by an out of hours doctor.;

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Asthma And Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which the airways narrow or collapse during sleep. Asthma and OSA share similar symptoms and appear to have a bidirectional relationship. This means that having one of these respiratory conditions increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with the other. OSA is particularly common in people with asthma who also snore and those with poorly-controlled asthma symptoms.

People with asthma may find it helpful to talk to their doctors about obstructive sleep apnea. Because asthma puts a person at an increased risk of developing OSA, research suggests that periodic evaluations for OSA may help patients with asthma. Fortunately, treating OSA can often reduce asthma symptoms.

The Surroundings At Night

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The closed environment of the room greatly increases the risk of asthma attacks at night. Inhaling very cold air can also trigger off an attack. The indoor air contains micro organisms that can make asthma worse while sleeping. The most common reason is presence of dust mites. These mites feed on dead skin that is shed from human body while sleeping and can come in contact with humans. Certain digestive enzymes present in the mite’s gut that persists in their excreta causes wheezing. If this is the case, take a look at how to get rid of mites at home.

Dampness in houses and rooms where one stays can also be harmful. Such rooms with mold, which is a form of fungus, can also be the reason for nocturnal asthma. Though it is mostly believed that fungus can grow on organic materials like wood, the reality is that it also grows on the layers of dirt that accumulates on inorganic materials like plastic.

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Assessment With A Peak Flow Meter

This is an alternative test. A peak flow meter is a small device that you blow into. A doctor or nurse will show you how. It measures the speed of air that you can blow out of your lungs. No matter how strong you are, if your airways are narrowed, your peak flow reading will be lower than expected for your age, size and sex. If you have untreated asthma then you will normally have low and variable peak flow readings. Also, peak flow readings in the morning are usually lower than in the evening if you have asthma.

You may be asked to keep a diary over two weeks or so of peak flow readings. Typically, a person with asthma will usually have low and variable peak flow readings over several days. Peak flow readings improve when the narrowed airways are opened up with treatment. Regular peak flow readings can be used to help assess how well treatment is working. See the separate leaflets called Asthma – Peak Flow Meter and Peak flow diary for more details.

What Is Asthma And Who Does It Affect

Asthma is a condition that affects the smaller airways of the lungs. From time to time the airways narrow in people who have asthma. This causes the typical symptoms. The extent of the narrowing, and how long each episode lasts, can vary greatly.

Asthma can start at any age but it most commonly starts in childhood. At least 1 in 10 children and 1 in 20 adults have asthma. Asthma runs in some families but many people with asthma have no other family members affected.


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Keep Your Sleeping Environment Allergen Free

You need your sleep, so, the room you sleep in needs to be cleaned often to remove pollen, dust mites, and other allergens. Vacuuming under the bed helps in this effort by removing allergens living underneath it. A home-remedy that helps keep your bedroom allergen free is to wipe down hard flooring, molding and the walls near your bed with white vinegar. Mold is an allergen that enjoys living on dark walls and floors. Dehumidifiers can help keep relative humidity at the recommended levels of 30-50% and air conditioning to maintain temperatures at 70 degrees F or below will retard dust mite and mold growth. Hardwood flooring is best.

The Importance Of Medication Adherence

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One of the most important things to prevent asthma attacks is medication adherence, said Carrillo. Often, people find their medication reduces the occurrence of their symptoms, so they think they do not need their medication anymore. This is not true, because asthma has no curethe prescribed medication only controls your asthma symptoms.

Health care providers usually prescribe two key medications: a long-term control inhaler and a rescue inhaler. Since asthma triggers are highly specific to the individual, people should speak with their health care provider to find an asthma care plan that works for them. Many health care providers prescribe both types of inhalers.

The first medication is a long-term asthma control inhaler like a corticosteroid. People with asthma should regularly take this medication to control their chronic symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. If people stop their medication, then their risk of an asthma attacks increases.

The second medication is a rescue inhaler. This inhaler will provide a quick relief of symptoms during an asthma attack. The medication relaxes the airway muscles, which opens the lungs and allows unconstructed airflow.

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What Is Nocturnal Asthma

Asthma is a long-term, chronic respiratory disease, caused by the inflammation of the airways. When this condition worsens overnight, we call it nocturnal asthma or nighttime asthma. Regardless of the type of asthma you have, including allergic, non-allergic, occupational, and exercise-induced asthma, nocturnal asthma can occur more than once a month.

Over the past decade, the prevalence of asthma in adults and children has increased in the United States. The California Health Interview Survey states that 15.9% of asthma cases were reported in Orange County in 2015-2017. Although there is no cure for asthma, the symptoms can be managed through long-term medications and short-term quick-relief inhalers. A few home remedies and other tips can also help patients with nocturnal asthma sleep better.

What To Do When Asthma Stops You Sleeping

  • If you have asthma symptoms, sit up and take your reliever inhaler as prescribed.;
  • Always make sure your inhaler is beside your bed before you go to sleep, so you dont have to search for it in the middle of the night.
  • Give yourself a bit of time to check your reliever medicine has dealt with your symptoms before you go back to sleep, says Dr Andy Whittamore. This is better than falling asleep straight away only to wake up soon after with asthma symptoms because your reliever didnt help enough.
  • Some people find propping themselves up with extra pillows helps as it keeps the airways open.

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What Makes Asthma Worse Or Better A Pulmonologist Explains

In this article:

Asthma is a chronic respiratory ailment that can be quite debilitating and even life-threatening if not managed properly.

When you breathe in an irritant, an inflammatory response is triggered in the respiratory tract, which causes your airways to swell up and produce extra mucus. Consequently, the flow of oxygen is constricted, leading to the classic symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and wheezing.

It is important to identify the triggers in order to avoid them and improve the symptoms.

Other Tips For Sleeping With Asthma

How I Cured My Asthma

Other ways to reduce asthma symptoms at night include:

  • Cut down on allergens in your bedroom. Consider using an air purifier next to your bed and keep airflow in your room through the night.
  • Wash your bedding in hot water every 1-2 weeks to get rid of dust mites and other irritants that may be on your sheets.
  • Consider switching to bedding made of natural cotton, as opposed to synthetic polyester depending on your allergies.
  • Keep pets off your bed, especially when youre in it.
  • Keep asthma medication on your nightstand or another easily accessible place, and take them as directed by your doctor.
  • Set the thermostat in your bedroom slightly higher in the evenings. Sleeping in a cold environment can be an asthma trigger.

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Does Asthma Get Worse At Night

Asthma is worse at night than during the day because the body is in a supine position, and you have a higher exposure to allergens than you would when walking around. Exacerbated symptoms make it difficult to sleep and cause coughing, wheezing, and sneezing. We recommend a humidifier, air purifier, and keeping your bedroom clean to reduce indoor allergens.

What Are The Dosages Of Treatment

Everyone is different. The correct dose of a preventer inhaler is the lowest dose that prevents symptoms. A doctor may prescribe a high dose of a preventer inhaler at first, to ‘get on top of symptoms’ quickly. When symptoms have gone, the dose may then be reduced by a little every few weeks. The aim is to find the lowest regular dose that keeps symptoms away.

Some people with asthma put up with symptoms. They may think that it is normal still to have some symptoms even when they are on treatment. A common example is a night-time cough which can cause disturbed sleep. But, if this occurs and your symptoms are not fully controlled, tell your doctor or nurse. Symptoms can often be prevented – for example, by adjusting the dose of your preventer inhaler, or by adding in a long-acting bronchodilator.

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Goodbye To Nocturnal Triggers

Whatever triggers your asthma symptoms during the day could also become problematic at night. Dust mites are known to exacerbate night-time asthma symptoms, and they love to get buried in the bedcovers. So, its a good idea to vacuum every corner of your bedroom regularly and to wash your bedding on a high heat.

Is the temperature in your room too hot or too cold? For some people temperature can be a night-time trigger. If youre experiencing a dry cough, you could consider installing a humidifier. Another common night trigger can be a high pollen count but thats easily fixed by keeping windows shut firmly and taking an allergy medication.

What Is An Asthma Action Plan

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An asthma action plan is a plan agreed by you with your doctor or nurse. The plan enables you to make adjustments to the dose of your inhalers, depending on your symptoms and/or peak flow readings. The plan is tailored to individual circumstances. The plan is written down, usually on a standard form, so you can refer to it at any time. Research studies suggest that people who complete personal asthma action plans find it easier to manage their asthma symptoms and that their plan helps them to go about their lives as normal. Asthma UK provides asthma action plans which you can download from

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What Triggers Asthma Attacks At Night

  • Colder airways work less effectively, resulting in a narrowing that causes wheezing and coughing at night. However, before turning up the heating, its important to consider the effect of overheating at night, particularly for babies and young children. Learn more about baby sleeping temperatures.
  • Lying flat can also cause more wheezing and coughing at night due to a combination of factors, such as decreased lung volume and a build-up of catarrh in the airways.
  • Night-time allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, can cause catarrh to flow from the nose to the throat, triggering coughing and breathing difficulties at night. House dust mites are one of the most common causes of night-time allergies as they like to live in mattresses and bedding.
  • Incorrect medication use or dosage: regularly coughing and wheezing at night could be a sign that you are not taking your medicine effectively, or that the dosage or type of medication needs to be reviewed.


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