Sleep apnea, a medical condition described by periods of breathlessness during sleep, has many acute symptoms. Snoring, dry mouth and headache in the morning, frequent nighttime waking, and many others may be found on the laundry list of things caused by the disorder.
For some people, these symptoms are a constant frustration while for others, their sleep apnea seems to get worse and better at different times. If you’re one of these individuals with intermittently worse symptoms, you might be curious about what sort of seasonal or weather issues could be affecting your sleep. Below are a few things to look out for when managing your sleep apnea.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people with obstructive and central sleep apnea alike reported a worsening of their symptoms during times of low barometric pressure. These low pressures are often responsible for cloudy, rainy weather as well as thunderstorms when the pressure drops even lower. Consider keeping a diary to write down when your symptoms worsen to see if they correlate with this stormy weather.
For those with seasonal allergies, different times of the year might produce different effects. Those most affected by ragweed pollen will most likely be very stuffed up, have worsening headaches, and even trouble breathing from August till October. For others, early Spring when the flowers first bloom is the most difficult to manage season. There are even unlikely individuals have to struggle through both the Spring and Fall!
Is Sleep Apnea a “Winter’s Disease?”
For over a decade, researchers studied prevalence of sleep apnea diagnoses as well as the severity of a person’s symptoms. What they found was that many more people are diagnosed with sleep apnea or seek out extra treatment for their existing sleep apnea during the winter months. This has caused some health care practitioners to call sleep apnea a “winter disease.”
The precise reasoning behind this increase is unknown. Some theories include barometric pressure changes, illness related to the seasonal flu, and indoor pollution from fireplaces and wood stoves.
How to Manage Changing Symptoms
The seasons are always changing, and unfortunately, so are many sleep apnea sufferers symptoms. The good news is that management of the disease is very possible. Most doctors recommend Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy for sleep apnea, and this treatment is versatile enough to allow changing seasons and symptoms.
If you’re experiencing nasal congestion as the result of seasonal allergies, you may want to use a full face mask during these times if you normally use a nasal mask. When your nose is stuffed up, you won’t be able to receive the health benefits of your prescribed CPAP therapy. A warm air humidifier might also be the best choice for nasal congestion, as the moist air will loosen secretions and prevent nose bleeds or secondary infections. Humidifiers also help combat the dry air often experienced in winter. You might also get relief from nasal sprays or rinses before and after sleep.
Keeping your CPAP system clean during times of worsening symptoms will prevent the acquisition of secondary infections are allergies or colds. You can find CPAP cleaning supplies, warm air humidifiers, and the rest of your CPAP system needs at Breatheeasycpap.com. This site is ran by a group of dedicated respiratory health care practitioners who care deeply about your comfort and sleep apnea treatment.