5 Possible Sleep Disordered Breathing Problems

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Noc­tur­nal awak­en­ings asso­ci­at­ed with impaired breath­ing can occur in every per­son dur­ing life. Part of the pop­u­la­tion has been suf­fer­ing from this prob­lem since child­hood (chron­ic dis­eases are to blame), while oth­ers have symp­toms at an old­er age. Healthy­in­fo looked into what could cause noc­tur­nal res­pi­ra­to­ry arrest.

Nocturnal asthma

Nocturnal asthma

Bronchial asth­ma is a chron­ic aller­gic dis­ease, which is accom­pa­nied by repeat­ed attacks of suf­fo­ca­tion against the back­ground of inflam­ma­tion of the air­ways. Accord­ing to the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion, more than 235 mil­lion peo­ple live with this diag­no­sis in the world.

Even minor trig­gers and aller­gens can cause air­ways to con­strict. Noc­tur­nal asth­ma means that a per­son­’s asth­ma symp­toms wors­en at night. This can neg­a­tive­ly affect the qual­i­ty of sleep. Some­times the onset of noc­tur­nal asth­ma means that the per­son is suf­fer­ing from severe asth­ma or has poor con­trol of their symp­toms. These patients may have impaired lung func­tion and air­way hyper­sen­si­tiv­i­ty.

Symp­toms of asth­ma exac­er­ba­tion include not only short­ness of breath, but also the appear­ance of wheez­ing, which is heard at a con­sid­er­able dis­tance from the patient. Many patients have a so-called “atopic con­sti­tu­tion” with man­i­fes­ta­tions of oth­er aller­gic dis­eases, for exam­ple:

    atopic dermatitis: rashes on the flexor surfaces of the limbs, itching and dry skin;
    allergic rhinitis: mucous discharge from the nose resulting from contact with an allergen (dust or pollen);
    food allergy (more often manifested in childhood).

Reflux from the esophagus to the stomach

Gas­troe­sophageal reflux dis­ease (GERD) is a chron­ic con­di­tion in which hydrochlo­ric acid from the stom­ach backs up into the esoph­a­gus. This con­di­tion leads to irri­ta­tion of the laryn­gopha­ryn­geal recep­tors, as a result of which a per­son devel­ops a cough­ing fit, which can turn into suf­fo­ca­tion.

Dur­ing sleep, the human body is in a hor­i­zon­tal posi­tion. As a result of insuf­fi­cient activ­i­ty of the sphinc­ter between the stom­ach and esoph­a­gus, gas­tric con­tents are thrown into the over­ly­ing sec­tions of the diges­tive tract. Dur­ing the day (when the body is upright most of the time), seizures occur less fre­quent­ly. It is known that the dis­ease is more com­mon in obese peo­ple, dur­ing preg­nan­cy, when smok­ing (active or pas­sive).

The main symp­tom of GERD is heart­burn, a burn­ing sen­sa­tion behind the ster­num. Symp­toms are aggra­vat­ed after eat­ing (espe­cial­ly if the diet is vio­lat­ed). How­ev­er, not all peo­ple with GERD expe­ri­ence heart­burn, and there are oth­er pos­si­ble symp­toms:

    nausea or vomiting;
    bad breath;
    breathing problems;
    difficulty or pain when swallowing.

sleep apnea

sleep apnea

Sleep apnea (or sleep apnea) is char­ac­ter­ized by recur­ring episodes of stop­ping breath­ing dur­ing sleep. There are 2 rea­sons for the devel­op­ment of this con­di­tion — impaired air­way paten­cy and impaired sig­nal­ing in the ner­vous sys­tem.

When the air­way clos­es or the sig­nal is delayed, the per­son stops breath­ing. This hap­pens tem­porar­i­ly, but repeat­ed­ly dur­ing sleep. When the per­son starts breath­ing again, he takes a deep breath or wakes up com­plete­ly with a feel­ing of suf­fo­ca­tion.

Obstruc­tive sleep apnea is asso­ci­at­ed with many forms of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, includ­ing hyper­ten­sion, stroke, heart fail­ure, coro­nary artery dis­ease, and atri­al fib­ril­la­tion, accord­ing to a 2019 Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia study.

Sleep apnea also leads to depres­sion, day­time sleepi­ness, and increas­es the risk of acci­dents. Against the back­ground of the devel­op­ment of the dis­ease, non­spe­cif­ic symp­toms are not­ed: fatigue, insom­nia, sleep dis­tur­bances, dif­fi­cul­ty con­cen­trat­ing, headaches, irri­tabil­i­ty, decreased libido and erec­tile dys­func­tion.

cardiac asthma

Asth­ma can be caused not only by prob­lems with the res­pi­ra­to­ry sys­tem, but also by the pathol­o­gy of the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. In this case, asth­ma is pro­voked by stag­na­tion of blood in the lung tis­sue. The pecu­liar­i­ty of car­diac asth­ma is that it is a com­pli­ca­tion of a dis­ease, and not a sep­a­rate con­di­tion.

The main caus­es of devel­op­ment are heart defects, aneurysms (thin­ning and bulging of the walls of large ves­sels), coro­nary heart dis­ease, myocar­dial infarc­tion, etc. As a result of these dis­eases, the heart can­not ful­ly pump blood, it accu­mu­lates in the lungs, which caus­es symp­toms.

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More often, attacks of car­diac asth­ma, accom­pa­nied by dif­fi­cul­ty in breath­ing, occur against the back­ground of active phys­i­cal exer­tion or stress. How­ev­er, with severe heart dam­age, symp­toms may appear even dur­ing sleep, dur­ing com­plete rest.

sleep paralysis

sleep paralysis

Sleep paral­y­sis (para­som­nia) is an unde­sir­able event asso­ci­at­ed with sleep, dur­ing which there is com­plete or par­tial mus­cle paral­y­sis. Episodes of paral­y­sis are often accom­pa­nied by hyp­n­a­gog­ic expe­ri­ences, which are visu­al, audi­to­ry, and sen­so­ry hal­lu­ci­na­tions. They occur dur­ing the tran­si­tion from sleep to wake­ful­ness and con­sis­tent­ly fall into one of three cat­e­gories:

    “Intruder”: The sound of a doorknob opening, shuffling footsteps, the shadow of a person, or the feeling of a menacing presence in the room are heard.
    “Incubus”: a feeling of pressure on the chest, difficult breathing with a feeling of suffocation, fear of death.
    Vestibular-motor symptoms: sensation of spinning, falling, hovering, flying, hovering over one’s body, or other type of out-of-body experience.

What to do if at night it “takes your breath away”?

Any bouts of noc­tur­nal suf­fo­ca­tion is a rea­son to seek help from a doc­tor. The spe­cial­ist will con­duct a dif­fer­en­tial diag­no­sis, iden­ti­fy the cause of adverse events and pre­scribe a spe­cif­ic ther­a­py. You can also devote some time to sleep hygiene:

    ventilate the room half an hour before bedtime;
    do not use gadgets and do not watch TV 2 hours before bedtime;
    do not overeat and do not drink large amounts of fluid at night;
    go to bed at the same time.

By Yraa

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