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Is Asthma Worse at Night?

Is Asthma Worse at Night?


Asthma IS worse at night.

More Info: The coughing and wheezing associated with asthma is often worse at night.  Wheezing is also worsened by exercise, heartburn, and when breathing in cold air.  The wheezing can be relieved with the use of bronchodilators.

What Is Asthma?

An estimated 300,000,000 people suffer from asthma worldwide.  Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the respiratory system that causes the muscles around the airways and the airway lining to swell during an asthma attack making it difficult to breathe. There is no cure for asthma, but there are ways to reasonably manage it.

Common Asthma Triggers

Many conditions can set of an asthma attack depending on the asthma sufferer’s sensitivity.  Triggers include exercise-induced asthma, occupational induced asthma, and allergy induced asthma.  Exercise-induced asthma is triggered when the lungs are exerted and most frequently occurs when the air is dry and cold.  Occupational induced asthma is triggered by chemicals, pollutants, and dust in the workplace.  Allergy induced asthma can be triggered by pets, dust, smoke, mold, and pollen.

Other known triggers include stress, respiratory infections and even aspirin for some patients.


Quote: “To complicate matters, symptoms of asthma are not consistent and often vary from time to time in an individual. In some patients, symptoms are influenced by diurnal factors; for example, some patients experience asthma primarily at night (nocturnal asthma) rather than during the day.  ”

Source:  Dennis Lee MD; George Schiffman, MD, FCCP; Asthma Complexities

Quote:  “The exact reasons for why asthma is worse during sleep are not known. Still, there are many explanations for what may cause nocturnal asthma. Some of these may involve increased exposure to allergens at night, cooling of the airways, the reclining position, or hormone secretions that follow a circadian pattern.  Sleep itself may even cause changes in bronchial function.”

Source:  Nocturnal Asthma


Quote: “The worst bronchospasm is usually at about 4 am, and the best airflow is at approximately 4 pm; therefore, asthma control is labile. The explanation for this circadian pattern is not clear, but it involves factors beyond acid reflux, sinusitis, or postnasal dripping during sleep. Nonetheless, all of these nocturnal factors can worsen asthma status.”

Source:   Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Professor of Internal Medicine, Program Director, Emergency Medicine, University Hospitals, Case Medical Center

Asthma; eMedicine from WebMD


Diurnal: Active during the daytime rather than at night; having a daily cycle every 24 hours.

Nocturnal: Most active, pertaining to, or ocurring at night.

Bronchodilator: An agent that causes an increase in the caliber of a bronchus or bronchial tube and eases breathing by relaxing bronchial smooth muscle

The American Heritage Medical Dictionary



“Asthma, All Sections (printer-friendly), NHLBI, DCI.” National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.

“Asthma: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.

“Asthma: Symptoms –” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.

“AAAAI – Statistics.” AAAAI – American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology – N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.


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