Nocturnal asthma is described as the asthma of patients whose symptoms strike mostly at night.
Nocturnal asthma attacks occur often between mid night and 8 A.M in the morning.
The pulmonary functions are at lowest level at this time because circulating blood vessels of epinephrine and cortisol, which protect the body against asthma, are at lowest levels.
People with asthma experience inflammation of the bronchial tubes and this causes narrowing of the airways.
75% percent of asthma patients experience symptoms at night. There are several factors that are responsible for the increased incidence of nocturnal asthma. The factors include circadian rhythm and flow of various chemicals and body functions.
Patients awaken during the night due to the breathing problems associated with nocturnal asthma. Disturbance in the quality of sleep results in daytime sleepiness and affects the ability to perform other tasks.
Nocturnal asthma causes:
- The circadian rhythm depends on person’s sleep and waking cycle. If the person works at night and sleeps during day, he is most likely to suffer from nocturnal asthma during daytime.
- Melatonin plays an important role in triggering nocturnal asthma. Melatonin is a hormone which regulates circadian rhythm. Melatonin enhances allergic airway inflammation and increases nocturnal asthma attacks. Avoid drugs that contain melatonin.
- Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander and other house hold allergens trigger nocturnal asthma. If you are exposed to these allergens in the evening, it may trigger asthma in the middle of the night. The airways become more inflamed at night as chemical levels change during the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
- Chronic rhino sinusitis and postnasal drip are the contributing factors to the attack.
- Cold air triggers asthma. Body temperature drops during sleep which causes the attack.
- Acid reflux can result in the irritation and coughing at night which can result in attack.
- People with sleep apnea experience sudden breathing cessation. This disorder may cause reflexes in the lower airways that trigger asthma.
Nocturnal asthma diagnosis and treatment:
Your physician asks about the symptoms and obtains full medical history to treat nocturnal asthma. Treatment is based on circadian rhythm and the effects of various medications.
Once your doctor has clear understanding about your condition and symptoms, he can prescribe long lasting medications.
Some patients treat nocturnal asthma by treating related conditions that trigger nocturnal asthma. Allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, and acid reflux disease can cause nocturnal asthma symptoms worse. Treating these conditions individually improves nocturnal asthma.
Inhaler will not help with lung function all night. It is impossible to cure completely nocturnal asthma. You have to follow some preventive measures to lessen the nocturnal asthma attack.
Prevention of nocturnal asthma:
- Make your bedroom allergy free as possible. Use allergy proof covers for mattresses and pillows. Keep your pets out of the bedroom.
- Keep the air in the room warm and moist using humidifier, which helps to keep your body temperature from falling too low.
- Control the events of sleep apnea by consulting your physician. Change in sleep position, devices to keep your throat open and medicines are used to treat this disorder.