How does pollution affect sleep apnea: Natural pollution and sleep apnea

Young woman with allergies

Air pollution, pollen, dust, dust mites and other natural allergens can also affect the way we breathe and how we sleep.

Pollen, dust or dust mite allergies have one thing in common that seriously affects our sleep: the potential to cause inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose and throat.
Although the consequences may be harmless most of the time, they are still very uncomfortable. In particular, for the sleep apnea patient who also suffers from asthma. Asthmatics have sensitive airways. When this becomes irritated, the chain reaction begins: more inflammation, swelling, mucus production… and the vicious cycle compounds matters. The more irritated the airway, the more narrowed it becomes. This makes the airway collapse more easily and sleep apnea becomes more difficult to treat,(1) according to St Luke’s Medical Group (Texas).
Allergy sufferers are not much more comfortable. Instead of a blocked nose for 3 weeks, allergies often make it last 6 months or more, depending on the allergy. Imagine suffering from dust mite allergy in autumn and winter, and from pollen allergy for the other half of the year…
And what about those suffering from both asthma and allergies?

When a blocked nose results in ineffective CPAP therapy

Inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose causes swelling. In addition to being painful, more and more mucous blocks the airway, day and night. A perfect storm for sleep apnea breathing pauses.
Furthermore, a blocked nose may lead to mouth opening and ineffective nasal CPAP therapy.

It is becoming vital to treat the disease as well as its allergenic source. An allergy expert could prescribe different types of treatments, depending on their medical specialty. Most of the time, antihistamines provide a cure. When a blocked nose turns into rhinitis or sinusitis, treatments might need to be more powerful and sometimes antibiotics may be recommended.

Other medical experts can prescribe homeopathic medicines for long-term treatment: 3 months in winter for a pollen allergy, for example.

Taking some easy and practical measures in the home can also minimize any inconvenience before allergies turn into breathing disorders and symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Install an air purifier in the bedroom.
- Use hypoallergenic bedding (synthetic duvets and pillows) to reduce the risk of dust mite allergy.
- Exercise-induced asthma sufferers shouldn’t play sport when pollution levels and temperatures are at their peak.
- Asthma and dust allergy sufferers should air the house every day and clean it regularly to banish dust and humidity.
- Stone or wood flooring are considered better than carpets for dust mite allergies.
- Dry air makes rhinitis worse. Make use of an air humidifier during the day and consider getting a CPAP humidifier.

Just a few changes that’ll make a big difference in the day-to-day life of all sleep disorder and sleep apnea sufferers!

Please consult your doctor or home healthcare provider if you have any questions.

(1) http://www.chistlukeshealth.org/asthma-and-sleep-apnea-1268

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