According to the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference, people with asthma are 70 percent more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than asthma free patients. Obstructive sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, with the most common symptom being chronic snoring. If untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can cause heart disease and stroke.

The researchers have not quiet pinpointed why asthma leads to apnea, but there are some ideas that will likely be researched more in the future. For example, many asthma sufferers use corticosteroids to control their asthma symptoms. The corticosteroids are delivered to the lungs via an inhaler, and it is possible that they may weaken the airway muscles and affect the fat distribution around the neck. According to Miheala Teodorescue, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin and one of the study authors, the pressure from an asthma attack could cause the upper airways to collapse, leading to obstructive sleep apnea.

If you have been diagnosed with asthma, there are some things you can do to help lower your risk for obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Stay within your ideal weight range, per your doctor’s recommendations
  • Don’t smoke, and if you do smoke, quit now
  • Exercise regularly
  • Treat any congestion you experience
  • Visit Atlanta ENT regularly to treat your asthma and stay ahead of apnea

Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT