Alaska Sleep Education Center

Allergies and Sleep Apnea: How are they connected?

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Mar 27, 2018 6:53:00 AM

Allergies and sleep apnea: How are they connected? Spring has arrived, and allergy season is upon us once again. With that in mind, the blog turns its attention to the topic of sleep apnea and allergies.

In general, allergic reactions are thought to interfere with normal, healthy sleep. The logic goes like this: Allergies create nasal congestion. Nasal congestion can dry out your mouth, or block your breathing airways. Both of these factors can lead to “apneas” — the stops in breathing overnight that characterize obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Therefore, allergies and sleep apnea can be connected if ongoing allergic reactions are blocking your sleep on a regular basis.

Allergies can have other effects on our ability to get a good night’s sleep, too. Some allergic reactions swell the tonsils or adenoids, causing them to grow larger — again, potentially causing a blocked airway that can lead to sleep apnea.

So, while allergies may not specifically cause sleep apnea, there does seem to be a connection. As a study published in the American Review of Respiratory Disease stated, “in patients with allergic rhinitis, obstructive sleep apneas are longer and more frequent” than in patients without those allergic conditions.1

It follows, then, that taking steps to reduce allergic reactions can help increase the quality of sleep: “Decreasing nasal congestion with nasal steroids may improve sleep, daytime fatigue, and the quality of life of patients with AR [allergic rhinitis],” as the authors of a 1998 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology put it.2

Most researchers stop short of actually concluding that treating allergies can prevent sleep apnea, though. A 2011 study published in the European Archives of Oto-rhino-laryngology states that, while “nasal steroids could improve the subjective quality of sleep, and may be useful for patients with mild OSA,” such allergy treatments are “not by themselves an adequate treatment for most OSA patients.”3

 

Allergies and sleep apnea: The CPAP connection

However, when discussing allergies and sleep apnea, another factor often comes into play: Allergic reactions can disrupt the CPAP therapy often used to treat sleep apnea. 

Manufacturers of CPAP masks and sleep apnea therapy equipment have taken steps to help you get around potential problems caused by the presence of both sleep apnea and allergies. For instance, if allergies make breathing through your nose difficult, you’re more likely to experience effective treatment from a full face mask than from a nasal pillows mask. While a nasal mask only delivers air through your nose, a full face mask covers your mouth and nose, ensuring that you still receive air whether your nose is congested or not.

In addition, advanced CPAP technology in the form of APAP — or automatic positive airway pressure — can help people who have both allergies and sleep apnea. How? Allergies can cause your breathing to fluctuate throughout the night, and APAP is designed to deliver different amounts of air as needed to keep up with those fluctuations.

If your allergies are interfering with your sleep apnea therapy, we encourage you to talk to your doctor or sleep therapist about possible solutions, such as switching to a different CPAP mask, or a different type of PAP therapy machine.

 

 

Springtime and CPAP:

1. If you have spring allergies, try CPAP humidification.

If allergies are attacking your nose, it can feel more irritated when it has to warm up all that incoming CPAP air. Using your CPAP humidifier can help when you have allergies by sharing your nose’s job of warming that air, making you feel more comfortable and relaxed. It can also help if your allergies cause you to have congestion, dry mouth or cold-like symptoms without a fever.

2. Adjust your own humidification.

If you have an Air10™ or S9™ CPAP machine, your Climate Control Auto settings will provide the best protection against rain-out (an uncomfortable condition in which humidified air cools too quickly and condenses in your mask, becoming water droplets that dampen your face). But some nights, you may want more control over your humidification, especially if you have allergies, get a cold, etc. Fortunately, setting your own humidity and temperature settings on your Air10™ or S9™ machine is easy.

3. Check your CPAP air filter.

We recommend checking your CPAP machine’s air filter year round for dust buildup, and replacing it at least once a month, as needed. This is worth emphasizing in March and April when more particles both in and outside your house can find their way into your filter. (Ask your equipment provider how often you’re covered to get replacement air filters, and if you’re eligible to receive hypoallergenic filters.)

4. Still congested? Consider a full face mask.

If you’re using a nasal or a nasal pillows mask and have nasal allergies with stuffiness and congestion, you may find a full face mask easier to breathe through when your allergies flare up – especially if you also have a deviated septum. (This is one of the reasons some people prefer using two CPAP masks.) Ask your equipment provider if a full face mask could help you during your allergy season.

 

Do you have difficulties with allergies and sleep apnea? Alaska Sleep Clinic is here to help!  Call us today for your FREE sleep assessment.

Request A Sleep Assessment

 

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Topics: CPAP success, CPAP Masks, allergies

CPAP Therapy: How it Works, Getting Set up & Results

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Jan 24, 2018 8:06:04 PM

Alaska-CPAP-Sleep-Apnea-Snoring

 

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Topics: CPAP success, CPAP compliance, CPAP Masks, Sleep, obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP, cpap accessories

CPAP Therapy Compliance: Tips and Tricks to Make CPAP Treatment Easy

Posted by Kevin Phillips on Jul 1, 2015 7:42:00 PM

We're going to be honest with you: CPAP therapy is going to be tough when you first get it prescribed to treat your sleep apnea. You might tell yourself that "it's just too difficult to tolerate", and quickly go back to your old ways of getting terrible sleep, risking long-term health conditions, and feeling tired all the time. But at least you don't have to wear a mask on your face at night with pressurized air blowing into your throat, right?

All too often patients go through the process of finally seeking help for their sleep troubles by contacting a sleep clinic, getting a consultation, having a sleep study, receiving their diagnosis, getting issued CPAP equipment, trying it for a few nights...and then quickly abandon treatment because they thought it was too tough.

It can be a little baffling to see people jump through so many hoops to get help, only to banish their CPAP device to the darkest reaches of their closet within a few days, when all they needed was a few helpful tips and tricks to make CPAP therapy a "can't sleep without it" treatment.

Here we'd like to help you arm yourself with the tools for successful CPAP therapy.

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Topics: CPAP success, CPAP compliance

4 Reasons for You to Buy CPAP Equipment Before the End of the Year

Posted by Kevin Phillips on Dec 5, 2014 7:31:00 PM


The holidays are a busy time of year in which we spend our time Christmas shopping, making winter travel plans, enjoying the company of our families, and deciding just what to make our New Year's resolutions about. And for many of us, our New Year's resolutions often revolve around making our lives healthier and happier. Whether it's making healthier food choices, exercising more often, or quitting bad habits like smoking, many of us choose to start the next year off aiming at self improvement.

The Alaska Sleep Clinic wants to remind you that you don't need to wait until the first of the year to start making your health a priority. In fact, right now is the perfect time to start.

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Topics: CPAP success

Choosing the Best CPAP Mask: Pros, Cons, & Other Considerations

Posted by Kevin Phillips on Aug 8, 2014 2:10:00 PM

Finding the right CPAP mask is crucial to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. With so many different mask styles, shapes, and sizes, choosing the mask that works best for you can be a little daunting at first as there's no "miracle mask" that is best for all patients. What it all really boils down to is finding a mask that suits your own individual breathing needs, sleep habits, and comfort levels. At The Alaska Sleep Clinic we want to give you some initial key pointers and things to consider when you meet with your durable medical equipment (DME) technician as you find the perfect mask for every night use.

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Topics: CPAP success, CPAP Masks

9 Alternative Treatments to CPAP Therapy

Posted by Kevin Phillips on Jul 29, 2014 3:08:00 PM

An estimated 20 million American adults are believed to have obstructive sleep apnea, with the majority of those cases going undiagnosed. Sleep apnea used to be merely considered an annoyance by many, but in recent decades with more information on the dangers of untreated sleep apnea, more and more people have begun seeking treatment for their chronic sleep disorders.

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Topics: CPAP success, children, BPAP, oral appliance

OSA and Dental Considerations

Posted by Jennifer Christensen on Oct 25, 2013 2:00:00 PM

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which a child’s breathing stops and starts during sleep. Child OSA is most commonly found in children between the ages of 2 and 6, but can occur at any age.

There are a variety of treatments for OSA. Some of the most common devices to help are a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP), mouth appliances, and specially designed pillows. Dentofacial orthopedics is another option for early treatment and even prevention of OSA. These orthopedics can open the airway 10mm or more by developing a facial profile to an optimum situation, which is a process to increase the airway space. Treatment can be started as young as 2 years old, and can help your child to reach the maximum sleep potential by reducing problems with breathing, swallowing, and sleeping.

Other oral treatments include a Mandibular Repositioning device and a Tongue Retaining device. These devices open your airway by bringing your lower jaw forward during sleep. They are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouth guard. Others may fit around your head and chin to adjust the position of your lower jaw as well.

Dental devices are only effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea. There are also a number of possible troubling side effects from using the dental the devices to include soreness, saliva build-up, nausea, and damage or permanent change in position of the jaw, teeth, and mouth.

It is very important to get fitted by a dentist specializing in sleep apnea. Also, see your dentist on a regular basis for any dental problems that may occur, and check with your sleep specialist to see if you are a proper candidate for OSA.

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Topics: CPAP success, CPAP Masks, alaska sleep clinic, Sleep, sleep disorders, apnea, oral appliance

Treating OSA During Pregnancy Could Improve Fetal Health

Posted by Jennifer Christensen on Aug 21, 2013 2:52:00 PM

For most women pregnancy is a time of expectant joy and life changes. A recent study found that treating even mild levels of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) could improve the fetus’s health.

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Topics: CPAP success, CPAP Masks, alaska sleep clinic

5 Tips for Successfully Using a CPAP Machine

Posted by Tristan Fackler on Feb 23, 2013 5:18:00 PM

CPAP masks are like shoes  - you may have to try on a few before you find your favorite. Try a number of different masks until you find one that is comfortable to use.  A comfortable CPAP mask is the most important component of successful CPAP compliance.

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Topics: CPAP success, CPAP compliance, CPAP Masks

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