Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Nocturnal Asthma

moon in blue cloudy sky

Nocturnal Asthma is a situational-related form of disease that usually occurs at night times. It has similar clinical manifestations, wherein asthmatics may suffer from chest tightness, difficulty of breathing, and inability to acquire complete sleep.

An asthmatic individual suffering from night asthma may exhibit lightheadedness, poor concentration level, tiredness during daytime, huge bags under their eyes, and lack of energy. If they continue suffering from this condition, eventually this can lead to a more serious problem including neurological (psychological, as well), and cardiovascular health issues.

The importance of providing a good night sleep and well-controlled asthma before bedtime can prevent these critical complications. 

Current Findings of Nocturnal Asthma -

Sleep technicians, asthmatic specialists, and clinicians from California, USA found out that 1 out of 100 Americans with asthma suffers from restlessness and respiratory distress related to their condition before retiring at night. 

Other significant findings are:

  1. Asthmatic kids often complain of shortness of breathing at night than adults with asthma.
  2. 85% of asthmatic adults have difficulty of acquiring complete sleep due to chest tightness.
  3. 50% of the total population of asthmatics in America have disturbances in their daytime activities due to inability to sleep at night.
  4. 35% of them have partially managed their sleep-related problems by having frequent rest and sleep period in the afternoon.
  5. 15% of the asthmatics were successful in managing their asthma and able to achieve optimal sleep.
  6. Half of the asthmatics in American population suffered from minor complications due to nocturnal asthma.
  7. The other half was treated for major complications of night asthma.
These research findings explain that the importance of managing the asthma at daytime can affect their sleep cycle. Continuous disturbances in their sleep period can lead to a more serious health problem, which may be fatal if not properly managed. As a result, several preventive measures were designed to promote sleep for asthmatics.

What are the Preventive Measures for Nocturnal Asthma?

The most common culprit of nocturnal asthma is allergen. Therefore, the focus of the preventive measures is directly addressing the sources of allergy that can trigger the asthma attack. Researchers from Melbourne, Australia believed that modifying the environment (home or bedroom) plays an important role in preventing night asthma.

The temperature of the room must be ideal for the condition of an asthmatic person. It should not be too cold because this can cause bronchoconstriction. Too humid bedroom is inappropriate because it creates moist, which makes it as a medium for indoor allergens such as dust and mould.

Bed linens must be changed every week especially if the room has poor ventilation. This can prevent other sources of allergens that may migrate in the linens such as pillow cases, bed sheets, or comforter. Using of air fumes is not advisable for asthmatics.

Instead, use other alternative scents that can promote relaxation (to prevent stress-induced asthma) and soothes the airway. Drinking of milk for at least an hour before sleeping (if tolerated) can stimulate the production of tryptophan.

Tryptophan is a natural-occurring substance in the body that can relax the mind and promote proper sleep-awake cycle. Using of short-acting bronchodilators before sleeping is also recommended.

When sleeping, it is best that asthmatics should avoid reclining position. Instead, add extra pillows to support the head or side-lying position (specifically, left-lateral position) to promote proper lung expansion.

The importance of having complete sleep will improve the asthmatic wellbeing. Therefore, it must be taken with a serious consideration to prevent complications that may occur due to nocturnal asthma.
– By Edter