How to Diagnose Nocturnal Asthma
How to Treat Nocturnal Asthma
Nocturnal asthma is an asthma condition characterized by worsening symptoms at night.Though some individuals with nocturnal asthma may experience symptoms during the day, the symptoms are most prevalent between the hours of 1:00 am and 4:00 am.If you are experiencing nocturnal asthma, your asthma may not be controlled. See a doctor as soon as possible. Because of the time that symptoms occur, nocturnal asthma may be difficult to diagnose in some individuals. Treating nocturnal asthma requires many of the same strategies used to treat daytime asthma. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you think you may have nocturnal asthma or any other type of respiratory disorder.
Taking Prescription Medication
Use quick-relief medications.If you're suffering from an asthma attack, you'll need something to treat your symptoms as quickly as possible. Your doctor may recommend quick-relief medications, which are intended for short-term, as-needed use to relieve an active asthma attack.However, you are using these medications more than twice per week, then you may need other medications such as inhaled steroids.
- Short-acting beta agonists are inhaled bronchodilators that help improve your lungs' function within minutes. Medicines in this class include albuterol (ProAir HFA or Ventolin HFA) and levalbuterol (Xopenex).
- Ipratropium (Atrovent) is a fast-acting bronchodilator that is typically reserved for individuals with emphysema and bronchitis but may be used for severe asthma.
- Corticosteroids like prednisone and methylprednisolone may be administered orally or via injection. These medications quickly relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack, but prolonged use can cause serious side effects.
Take long-term asthma control medications.While quick-relief medications can help an active asthma attack, they will not do much to manage your asthma on a long-term basis. For this reason, your doctor may also prescribe one or more long-term medications to help control your condition.
- Leukotriene modifiers are oral medications that can treat symptoms for up to 24 hours at a time. Medications in this class include montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate), and zileuton (Zyflo).
- Long-acting beta agonists are inhaled medicines used to dilate the airways. Common beta agonists include salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil).
- Combination inhalers pair long-acting beta agonists with a corticosteroid, though they may increase the risk of a severe asthma attack. Common medications include fluticasone-salmeterol (Advair) and budesonide-formoterol (Symbicort).
Try allergy medications.Allergy medication will not directly treat asthma or nocturnal asthma, but they are commonly used for allergy control. Common OTC preparations include Zyrtec (cetirizine), Claritin (loratadine) and Allegra (fexofenadine). However, if your asthma is triggered by or exaggerated by allergies, your doctor may recommend that you take a prescription allergy medication.
- Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, involve your doctor administering small doses of a given allergen to reduce your immune system's reaction to it. This may start at once a week, then gradually move to once a month.
- Omalizumab (Xolair) is a medication that is administered via injection every two to four weeks. This medication is specifically made for people who suffer from both allergies and severe asthma.
- Inhaled corticosteroids have an anti-inflammatory effect on your airways. Common corticosteroids include fluticasone (Flonase or Flovent), budesonide (Rhinocort), flunisolide (Aerospan HFA), and ciclesonide (Alvesco).
Changing Your Environment
Keep your bedroom clean.Dust mites are a common trigger for people with nocturnal asthma. While you cannot guarantee a completely dust-free environment, you can reduce the risk of nocturnal triggers by keeping your bedroom as clean as possible.
- Dust your room at least once each week to keep dust to a minimum. If you're worried about exposure while cleaning you can wear a disposable dust mask.
- Vacuum your rugs regularly. When you change your sheets and pillowcases, you can also vacuum your pillows and mattress.
- Change your sheets and pillowcases regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and dust mites.
- You can also purchase special dustproof covers for your pillows and mattress. These protect your sleep area from dust and dust mites.
Remove carpets from your bedroom.Carpets provide ample space for dust and dust mites to gather, even if you clean regularly. The best way to reduce dust in your bedroom is to remove any carpeting in that room and install hardwood floors or linoleum tiles.
Treat the air in your room.The air that you breathe can have a tremendous effect on your asthma. Instead of leaving the windows open or breathing in damp air, you can treat the air in your bedroom to make it more conducive to your condition.
- Use an air conditioner instead of opening the windows. This reduces your exposure to pollen and dust while also lowering the humidity in your bedroom.
- If you live in an area that is prone to damp or humid weather, consider using a dehumidifier in your home to pull excess moisture out of the air.
Reduce your exposure to mold.Mold spores can aggravate your asthma at any time of day or night. The best way to reduce your exposure is to be proactive in how you tackle mold problems in and around your home.
- Keep the windows closed, especially at night. This is when mold spores are most active in the air.
- Dry and disinfect damp areas around your home, including in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Remove piles of leaves or damp firewood from your yard.
Making Lifestyle Changes
See your doctor regularly.Getting regular checkups for your asthma is the best way to keep it under control. Having nocturnal asthma symptoms is a sign that your asthma is not well-controlled, so you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can use different tests to check your asthma and adjust your medications as needed.
- If it has been a while since you last saw your doctor, then make an appointment today.
Avoid known triggers.Some factors are known to cause asthma attacks in individuals with any type of asthma.In people with nocturnal asthma, exposure to those triggers before and during sleep could be a significant factor.Common asthma triggers include, but are not limited to:
- Tobacco smoke
- Exposure to cold air
- Scented items, especially perfume and cologne
- Airborne particles, including hairspray and other chemicals
Try different body positions.Though there are multiple factors that could cause nocturnal asthma attacks, some experts believe that your body position during sleep could be a factor.Try adjusting the way you lie down when you go to sleep and find a position that seems to work best for you.
Live a healthy lifestyle.Experts generally advise that living a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the incidence of asthma attacks in many individuals.While this won't prevent asthma attacks from occurring, it will improve your health and may help you manage your symptoms.
- Try to reduce your emotional stress and anxiety levels, as these are tied to asthma symptoms in many people.
- Get adequate rest each night. This may be difficult if your nocturnal asthma interrupts your sleep, so try to plan accordingly by giving yourself more sleep time than you typically need.
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet. For help planning a healthy diet, you may want to consult with a nutritionist.
- Some experts recommend incorporating exercise into your lifestyle to help maintain your health. However, exercise may actually trigger an asthma attack in some individuals.
Limit exposure to pet dander.Some individuals may experience an asthma attack after exposure to pet dander. Having asthma does not necessarily mean you will need to get rid of an existing pet or that you won't be able to get one in the future. However, you will need to take precautions to limit how much dander your pet leaves around the house.
- Bathe furry pets once a week to reduce the amount of dander on their coats.
- If furry pets are a problem for your allergies, consider keeping them outside your bedroom as much as possible.
- Vacuum rugs often. You should also sweep and mop hard floor surfaces at least once each week.
- Furry pets are not the only animals that can cause complications. Some people find that bird feathers can also aggravate asthma symptoms.
- If your symptoms worsen in spite of taking precautions, you may need to avoid exposure to these pets altogether. Talk to a friend or relative about taking care of your pet if you are no longer able to.
Following Up with Your Doctor
Keep regular doctor's appointments.Long-term management of your asthma symptoms will require you to keep regular contact with your doctor. The frequency of your doctor's visits will vary, depending on the severity of your asthma and how well under control your condition is at any given time.
- Follow up with your doctor every two to six weeks when you're first getting control of your condition.
- Once your asthma is under control, schedule appointments for every one to six months. Keep these appointments indefinitely so your doctor can continue to assess your condition.
Ask your doctor about your medications.Some medications are known to trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms in some individuals. These include over-the-counter medications like aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. Beta-blockers, which are prescribed for heart disease and high blood pressure, are also known to trigger asthma attacks in some individuals.
- If you must take pain medication or beta-blockers for another medical condition, talk to your doctor about alternative medications that will not trigger your asthma.
- Check the side effects of any new medication you are considering to ensure that it will not have any adverse effects on your asthma.
See an allergist.If you suffer from allergies or if you find that allergens affect your asthma, you may need to see an allergist. An allergist can help you identify your particular allergies, work on allergen immunotherapy, and advise you on how to avoid known allergens.
- Ask your doctor for a referral to a recommended allergist. You can also find allergists in your area by searching online or checking your phone book, but you may still need a referral from your primary doctor.
Video: Why Asthma and Allergies are Worse at Night...
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