The day has ended on a positive note and you feel blessed to hit the bed early. The curtain blinds are intact, you are mesmerized by the fragrance of aroma candles and the dim lighting makes you sleepier. Closing your eye, you doze off for some time after which you suddenly wake up gasping for air. The scenario by itself sounds frightening and it makes you scared, but this is a common one that has occurred to many of us. The scenario might be repeated but the reason behind it differs each time. What exactly do you think is causing it?
Anxiety: Anxiety or panic attacks occur mostly during the night and in these cases the affected individual wakes up gasping for air. It occurs in 70% patients with anxiety disorder and these people can experience a panic attack even during daytime. Despite it, the entire experience of awakening gasping for air due to a sudden attack is extremely frightening as they happen during sleep without prior symptoms or triggers.
Sleep Apnea: In between sleep involuntary pauses in breathing is what is termed as sleep apnea. People affected by this condition snore and also gasp for air multiple times during the night affecting sleep quality. This hinders quality sleep but apart from that sleep apnea can also pave way for heart disease, high blood pressure, memory and mind-related problems. Obesity too is a risk factor for sleep apnea. Understand how obesity and sleep apnea are intertwined with helpful inputs from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Asthma: Coughing, wheezing and tightness in the chest are common symptoms of asthma but nocturnal asthma is the term given for symptoms that occur while sleeping. People with nocturnal asthma don’t experience any symptoms of asthma during the day but only suffer from it during night time. Asthma-affected individuals are likelier to experience gasping at night.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Damage of air sacs in the lungs makes it difficult to push air out of the lungs and this is COPD. COPD-affected individuals wake up gasping for air.
Heart Failure: Shortness of breath is a common symptom of heart failure which a person might primarily notice during physical activity. This becomes common in course of time even when a person is sleeping or lying down.
Post-nasal drip: Mucus and saliva are produced continuously but it flows to the back of the nose and throat and are swallowed. It is common that the individual might be unaware of the process. Post-nasal drip is when mucus accumulates and slowly drips down the back of the throat. Accumulation of mucus makes breathing difficult and if a person is asleep, he/she might wake up gasping for air.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Once the symptoms and medical history are checked the doctor suggests a few tests that can determine the cause behind gasping for air. Depending on the nature of cause any of the following treatments are recommended:
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.