Sleep-disordered breathing and asthma go together, study shows

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
Monday, August 29, 2011

One of the most recognized symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is snoring. Similarly, wheezing is the most common sign of asthma in potential asthma patients. In a recent study of sleep-disordered breathing and asthma, it was found that both of these disorders can go hand-in-hand, influencing sleep quality.

Arousals, daytime sleepiness and hyperactivity are some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Patients with a history of wheezing are at risk for sleep disturbances and limited daytime function. Children with asthma more often have snoring and apnea during sleep. Early evidence suggests that treating sleep apnea with adenotonsillectomy improves asthma as well.

High levels of leukotrienes, inflammatory cells associated with asthma, have been found in the breath samples of children with asthma. Children with sleep apnea also have elevated levels of the inflammatory cells. Viral respiratory infections can lead to inflammation in the airway, which can then lead to enlarged adenoids and tonsils as well as sleep apnea.

Because of the link between sleep-disordered breathing and asthma, if one of the disorders is diagnosed, it would be beneficial to test for the other as well.

To find out if your child has a sleeping disorder, visit an AASM accredited sleep center near you.

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