Signs You Actually Have Severe Asthma
Breathing is just one of those things you take for granted until it feels like every inhale or exhale is a struggle. Unfortunately, people with severe asthma have to deal with breathing issues way more often than anyone should, and it can be completely terrifying.
Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the airways that extend from your nose and mouth to your lungs, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When youre exposed to triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, exercise, and respiratory infections, these airways can narrow, restricting your airflow. This can then make the muscles surrounding your airways constrict, making it even harder to breathe, and cause your airways to produce more mucus than normal, further compounding the problem. All together, this can lead to asthma symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing , and chest tightness or pain, according to the NHLBI.
Like most health conditions, asthma severity runs along a spectrum, Emily Pennington, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. Some people have cases where they experience minor symptoms here and there . Others can have asthma that is basically an ever-present problem and might result in scary asthma attacks, which is when symptoms ramp up in severity and can even become life-threatening.
Lie On Your Back With Your Head Elevated And Your Knees Bent With A Pillow Under Knees
For some people, sleeping in the side position is just too much of a change. If you prefer sleeping on your back with your head and shoulders propped up by pillows, you can add another pillow under your knees.
This additional pillow may improve circulation and keep your body stable throughout the night, so that you dont shift out of your elevated position as you sleep.
How Asthma Is Treated
While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:
- relieving symptoms
- preventing future symptoms and attacks
For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Read our page on the causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.
Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.
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Why Is My Childs Asthma Worse At Night
Life with a child who has asthma can be frightening when they have a flare up, but it is compounded when it occurs at night. Waking up hearing your child wheezing and coughing not only disrupts everyones sleep, but it could mean a trip to the hospital. Many parents wonder, why is my childs asthma worse at night? Lets get some answers about what is sometimes known as nocturnal asthma .
Does Melatonin Improve Sleep In Asthma
Researchers have revealed that the hormone melatonin plays a vital role in improving the sleep cycle in asthma patients. Melatonin helps in regulating human circadian rhythms and is believed to have sleep-inducing activity. Additionally, melatonin studies suggest that it affects smooth muscle tone and inflammation too. Both of which helps in improving the sleep cycle for asthma patients at night.
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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 Morning Asthma
If your child wakes up every single morning coughing, wheezing, or having trouble breathing, dry air is probably not the culprit. In truth, it could be a number of different things. Morning asthma affects many individuals and causes difficulty breathing in the wee hours of the night. Lets take a closer look at what morning asthma is and how it affects your child.
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Fiding The Cause Of Your Nighttime Cough
Is my room dusty? When was the last time I cleaned off my upholstered headboard? The nightstands? Vacuumed under my bed? Dust is one of my asthma triggers, so I wanted to make sure my room was very clean. So all of that was cleaned.
And what about what’s ON my bed? I’m a stickler for keeping my bedding clean and washing the sheets once a week, as recommended.5 I also decided that I was going to wash everything else on the bed too. So it took most of my Saturday morning, but I washed the sheets, thermal blanket, coverlet, and a decorative pillow.
So, everything that could get dusty was washed or vacuumed.
But – it’s also allergy season. A quick look at my local pollen count showed that cottonwood, willow, ash, cedar, oak and birch are all in the “very high” category. And willow, maple and sycamore are all in the “high” category. Oh boy. No wonder my allergies are off the chart!
I know that it won’t help to have clean sheets if I am climbing into bed covered in pollen. The asthma doctor has told us to shower before we go to bed at night. That way, your body is clean and the pollen has been washed away. Otherwise, you lay down in bed and toss and turn all night and the pollen in your hair and on your skin is spread all over the bed. You breathe that in, and you can wake up wheezing, sneezing, and coughing.
Keep Your Mattress Up Off Of The Floor
While you technically can use some mattresses directly on the floor, we dont suggest that for people with allergies Placing your mattress on the floor means youre closer to dirt, dust, and other germs that can more easily make their way into your sleep space. Using a mattress foundation or bed frame limits your exposure to these irritants.
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Sacred Hour Before Bed
Youve probably heard this one before, because its true. Staring at screens, watching intense television or playing video games right up until bedtime can leave you too wired to fall asleep. Instead, try to come up with a relaxing routine you enjoy for the last hour before bed. If you absolutely cant give up your screen , then try some computer-reading glasses that block out blue light. We found and they work pretty well.
Night Or Morning Difficulties
Having asthma is one of the more serious issues you can face, health-wise. While today’s medical advances have made it easier to treat asthma through things like medications and treatments, there is still no way to completely eliminate the condition or the various symptoms that it can cause. If you think you may have asthma then a number of symptoms will certainly help you determine if you should visit a doctor or not. And if you already have asthma, knowing these different problems will help you learn just whether or not a particular issue is related to your asthma. For many, the biggest asthma symptoms are severe difficulties in the night or early morning hours.
In most cases this is indicative of nocturnal asthma, but even those with regular asthma will find that the night and morning are the two most difficult times of day for them. Breathing difficulty, pounding heart rates, coughing, and a tightness of the chest all combine to form the most common morning and night symptoms of asthma and can create a very real issue for the millions who suffer from asthma. There are a few reasons that the night and morning hours can be difficult for those with asthma.
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Other Tips For Sleeping With 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.
Surprising Signs Of Adult
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That persistent cough that keeps you up at night may stem from more than just a tickle in the back of your throat. It could be adult-onset asthma.
Many people experience a jolt of disbelief when they are diagnosed with asthma later in life, especially if they have never experienced symptoms before. Asthma? That condition that causes kids to wheeze?
It turns out adult-onset asthma is far more common than many people realize. Asthma is often considered a disease of children, so adults may be surprised when they are diagnosed with asthma, says pulmonologist Javier Pérez-Fernández, M.D., the critical care director at Baptist Hospital of Miami.
The number of people with asthma grows every year. Currently, more than 26 million Americans have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, more than 20 million are among adults, with the greatest number of cases among ages 35 and 65.
Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung airways that can lead to coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath or wheezing. Among adults who develop asthma later in life, the symptoms may initially be more subtle than in children, which can cause patients to overlook or ignore the condition. But its important to treat symptoms as soon as possible so they dont become severe, said Dr. Pérez-Fernández, who also serves as director of pulmonology for West Kendall Baptist Hospital.
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What Happens During An Asthma Episode
During normal breathing, the airways to the lungs are fully open. This allows air to move in and out of the lungs freely. Asthma causes the airways to change in the following ways:
These changes narrow the airways. Breathing becomes difficult and stressful, like trying to breathe through a straw stuffed with cotton.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
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You Wake Up Coughing And Wheezing During The Night
If youre ever jolted awake in the middle of the night by a fit of coughing or wheezing, you may need to modify your severe-asthma management plan.
Properly managed asthma shouldnt wake you up from sleep more than one or two nights a month. If youre losing sleep due to your symptoms more than this, it may be time to discuss treatment modifications with your doctor.
Your peak flow readings are a measurement of how well your lungs are functioning at their best. This measurement is usually tested at home with a handheld device called a peak flow meter.
If your peak flow levels drop below 80 percent of your personal best, thats a sign that your severe asthma is poorly managed. Another sign that your asthma is getting worse is if your peak flow reading varies greatly from day to day. If you notice low or inconsistent numbers, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Why Have Your Asthma Symptoms Got Worse
Before your appointment, have a think about your symptoms and why you think theyve got worse. Itll help you and your GP to work out whats going on with your asthma.
Ask yourself these questions to help you:
Have I been taking my preventer inhaler every day?
Preventer medicines stop inflammation building up in your airways. But they can only do this if you take them every day.
If you stop taking them you wont have full protection. And your symptoms will come back.
Have you been taking yours every day? Or have you found it hard to get into a good routine?
Do I know the best way to take my inhalers?
Even if youve been taking an inhaler for years, its easy to slip into bad habits. If you havent been taking your inhaler correctly you will have been missing out on the full dose of asthma medicine.
Are you confident youre taking your inhalers in the right way? Watch our inhaler videos to see if youre doing it right. And ask your GP or asthma nurse to check it at your appointment.
Have I been around more of my usual asthma triggers?
Maybe youve caught a cold, or its pollen season and your hay fevers bad. Think about your usual triggers and if they might be affecting you more.
Have I come across a new trigger?
Have you been around an animal or pet? Did you start a new job, or go on holiday? Tell your doctor if youve spotted a new trigger. They can help you deal with it.
What else has been going on in my life lately?
Have I noticed hormonal changes?
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Does A Cpap Help In Asthma Attack At Night
If there is an issue of carbon dioxide retention during an asthma attack, your doctor is more likely to recommend a BiPAP , as opposed to a CPAP . However, many patients with mild asthma have reported of using a CPAP machine without any problems.
Visit your doctor as soon as you suspect that you have asthma or asthma-like symptoms. Seeking immediate medical attention from an urgent care near you can also help you control an asthma attack and manage the symptoms.
Avoiding Nighttime Asthma And Improving Sleep
Asthma can make it challenging to get quality sleep, so its helpful to cultivate habits that support sleep health. Focusing on improving sleep hygiene is a significant first step. By developing a regular sleep schedule and healthy daytime routines, people with asthma can reduce unnecessary daytime fatigue and focus on controlling their asthma symptoms.
Asthma triggers in the bedroom may increase the risk of nocturnal asthma and lost sleep. In addition to working with a doctor to find solutions for reducing or eliminating asthma triggers, below are a few tips specific to and avoiding nighttime asthma:
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Improving Asthma At Night
Although you cannot control certain factors, such as your hormone levels, there are several things you can do to improve your asthma symptoms at night. Consider the tips below for suppressing flareups.
Certain things in your bedroom might be triggering an increase in asthma symptoms. Make your bedroom as allergen-free as possible. By decreasing allergens, you may reduce nighttime symptoms.
Keep your bedroom free of dust and clean your bedroom often. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which works well to trap dust. Get rid of items that easily collect dust, such as books or knickknacks.
You should also wash your bedding in hot water about once a week to get rid of dust mites. Consider using hypoallergenic pillowcases and sheets, which can help decrease allergens as well.
If pet dander is an issue, dont let your four-legged friends sleep in your room. Pet danger can become trapped in the carpet, which can lead to an increase in symptoms.
Sleep with Your Head Elevated
An increase in mucus from your sinuses may trigger asthma symptoms, such as coughing. Acid reflux, which is very common, can also trigger coughing and other asthma symptoms.
If postnasal drip, increased mucus, or acid reflux is an issue, consider sleeping with the head of your bed elevated. Place a wedge pillow under your head or use a few pillows while you sleep.
Medication and/or Treatment Changes