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Allergies + Apnea

Allergies can significantly impact the quality of your day and even sleep. Now that it’s officially spring, we can enjoy all of the perks that come with the seasonal change. We see blooming flowers, bright green grass and all kinds of plants that you haven’t seen in a year reappear. As beautiful as this time of year is, many are having increased allergy symptoms. Allergies can lead to problems sleeping and even obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s what you need to know about the connection.


When you have an allergy, your body treats whatever trigger it is as a threat. This results in classic allergic symptoms such as hives, watery eyes, congestion and at its worst, anaphylactic shock. Seasonal allergies are also sometimes referred to as allergic rhinitis. This is when the nose becomes inflamed due to the reaction of allergens in the air. Those with allergic rhinitis often have sleep problems.

How Allergies Can Impact Sleep

When the respiratory system suffers an allergic reaction, the airway is narrowed. This makes sleeping normally a problem. If you’ve never experienced allergies, but have had a cold, you have an idea of what it’s like. Obstructive sleep apnea is when the muscles in the throat relax and block the airway during sleep. This means that breathing stops throughout the course of the sleep cycle. When you have allergies, you likely aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep your body requires and you will feel an overall sense of fatigue and fogginess throughout the day.

Some individuals may only have allergies that flare up during certain seasons, but those who have issues year round are most susceptible to developing a chronic sleep disorder. If you think you or a loved one may have or be on the verge of developing OSA, here are allergy related symptoms.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing


What can be done?

There are many over-the-counter medicines that can be taken to help with the side effects. Some people with severe allergies have had success with allergic immunotherapy or allergy shots. Overall, the main goal to manage this is to reduce inflammation in the nose so that there is no nasal congestion and blocked breathing. If you think you may have OSA, it is time to meet with your doctor to discuss options and testing. The sleep tests are quick, easy and painless.

Allergies and sleep apnea impact millions of people. If you are one of those millions, do not hesitate to act today!

Eating Right: Tips for the COPD patient


For people suffering with a lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, eating should not be taken for granted.

According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, a well-nourished body helps fight off infections and may help prevent illness, thus cutting down on hospitalizations.

A proper diet will not cure your disease, but it will make you feel better. You will have more energy, and your body will be able to fight infection better. Good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential to everyone`s health, but patients with lung disease must be even more careful than most about following good nutrition guidelines.

Food is fuel and the body needs fuel for activities, including breathing. Because the COPD uses a lot of energy just breathing, ventilatory muscles can require up to ten times the calories required by a healthy person`s muscles. This is why it is so important for someone with COPD to eat properly. Good nutritional support helps maintain the ventilatory functions of the lungs, while lack of proper nutrition can cause wasting of the diaphragm and other pulmonary muscles.

The American Association for Respiratory Care offers nutrition tips for persons with COPD. These are general guidelines only. Your doctor is your best source of information on diet and other information about your lung disease.

  • Select foods from each of the basic food groups to include fruits & vegetables, dairy products, cereal & grains, and proteins.
  • Limit salt intake. Too much sodium can cause fluid retention that could interfere with breathing.
  • Limit drinks that contain Caffeine. Caffeine might interfere with some of your medications and may cause nervousness.
  • Avoid gas-producing foods that make you feel bloated.
  • Eat your main meal early to provide lots of energy to carry you through the day.
  • Choose easy preparation foods. Rest before eating so that you can enjoy your meal.
  • Avoid foods that provide little or no nutritional value.
  • Try eating six smaller meals a day instead of three big ones. This will keep you from filling up your stomach and causing shortness of breath.
  • Eating and digestion require energy, and this causes your body to use more oxygen. Be sure to wear your cannula while eating - and after meals, too.
  • Eat in a relaxed atmosphere. Try making meals attractive and enjoyable.

If meal preparation becomes a burden, there are agencies in many states that will provide meals for people for a small fee or at no charge. Seek local church organizations or government agencies to see what is available in your area.

Source: American Association for Respiratory Care

Do you have obstructive sleep apnea?

Do You Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Do family members tell you that you snore? If so, it may be possible that you are suffering from sleep apnea.

According to respiratory therapists from the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), there are several clues that can help you decide whether or not to seek testing for sleep apnea.

Do you experience sleepiness during the day?

People with sleep apnea wake up a lot at night, usually without even knowing it. Many suffer from daytime drowsiness as a result.

A bed partner reports brief periods of no breathing: If your bed partner notices you stopping breathing for even few seconds at a time during the night, you may have sleep apnea.

Very loud snoring: Lots of people snore, but people with sleep apnea usually snore consistently throughout the night and their snoring is extremely loud.

Struggling, snorting, gasping, choking, or partially or completely waking up in an attempt to resume breathing: If your sleep is repeatedly disrupted by these occurrences, sleep testing is in order.

Waking up with a dry mouth and/or morning headache: A dry mouth may mean you`ve been gasping for breath, and a headache signals a poor night`s rest.

Learn more about sleep apnea and respiratory care on the AARC`s consumer web site.

Travel tips with oxygen

Just because you use oxygen doesn`t mean that you can`t travel. It does mean, however, that you have to plan ahead. Changes in time zones and increased activity are things that need to be taken into consideration. Here is a checklist to help you prepare for the next time that you travel.

  • Did you ask your doctor about traveling?

Especially if you have been hospitalized recently, check with your doctor for travel clearance.

  • Have you completed the necessary paperwork to travel? A letter from your health care provider that verifies all of your medications, including oxygen, may be needed.
  • Do you have a copy of your oxygen prescription? You will need to show your prescription to travel personnel, so be sure to carry the prescription with you.
  • Do you have the name and phone number of the following health care professionals with you: your doctor, your respiratory therapist, your oxygen supplier and home health care company representative?
  • Do you have enough medication to last the entire trip? Remember to pack all medication and supplies in your carry-on bag. Keep a list of current medications with you at all times.
  • Do you have emergency medical identification to wear?

Below are additional tips for travelers on oxygen therapy:

  • Contact your home health care company and tell them where you are going and how you are getting there. They can assist you in arranging for oxygen when you reach your travel destination.
  • Be sure that you know how to use your portable oxygen system and know how long your oxygen will last. Check ahead to see if oxygen refills will be needed to complete your trip.
  • Did you contact your travel carrier (airline, cruise ship, bus) before departure? Be sure to ask if there will be a fee related to oxygen use.
  • Check with your health care provider if you have further questions.

Traveling by air:

  • Contact the airline several weeks ahead to obtain their policy and make arrangements. The airline may require a letter from your physician, some medical history, and a current oxygen prescription.
  • Before boarding the airplane you will need to leave your own portable oxygen tank at the gate. Make advance arrangements to leave your portable unit with a family member or plan to have your oxygen supplier pick up the unit at the airport.
  • You will not be able to use your own oxygen on the airplane.
  • Arrange for oxygen during layovers and when you arrive at your destination. Direct flights are recommended whenever possible.

Traveling by car:

  • No smoking should be allowed in the car.
  • Crack the car window open a bit.
  • Place the oxygen unit upright on the seat next to you. Secure the oxygen with a seat belt. Put the extra oxygen units flat on the floor next to the seat.

Traveling by bus or train:

  • Contact the local terminal management a few weeks before your scheduled departure.
  • Tell the management that you are traveling with oxygen and ask to be seated in a non-smoking area. You will probably be able to take your own oxygen on board.

Traveling on a cruise ship:

Call the cruise line approximately 4 to 6 weeks before departure

  • The cruise line will need a letter from your physician, some medical history, and a current oxygen prescription.
  • Before you depart, make arrangements to have your oxygen units delivered directly to the cruise ship.

Source: http://www.clevelandclinic.org