Is sleep apnea associated with pneumonia?
Is sleep apnea associated with pneumonia? – Woodinville sleep apnea clinic
Sleep apnea has been linked to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure and stroke. However, recent research indicates that the dangers of sleep apnea go beyond the circulatory and nervous systems. Sleep apnea also appears to increase the risk of pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, usually caused by bacteria.
Sleep apnea increases the risk of pneumonia
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2014 indicated that people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to get pneumonia. Sleep apnea patients were 20% more likely to be diagnosed with pneumonia than were people without the condition. Given that pneumonia is a serious condition that can be fatal, this is a large increase in risk. Pneumonia is among the top ten most common causes of death in the U.S.
The association between pneumonia and sleep apnea was independent of other risk factors, such as age and other medical conditions, that can also increase the risk of pneumonia. In addition, people with more severe sleep apnea had a higher risk of pneumonia than those with more mild disease.
Patients with sleep apnea who were using a CPAP machine were actually at a higher risk of pneumonia than were other sleep apnea patients. Those being treated with CPAP were 32% more likely to get pneumonia.
How does sleep apnea increase the risk of pneumonia?
Researchers believe that the connection between sleep apnea and pneumonia is caused by aspiration. Aspiration occurs when a person inhales something other than air. Often, this is their own secretions, such as saliva or mucus.
People with sleep apnea are more likely to aspirate in their sleep. This is because the airway blockage allows fluids to trickle down into the lungs, when they would normally not be able to do so because of the movement of air. Also,the blockage of the airway impairs the cough reflex. Once fluids enter the lungs, the bacteria in the fluids can cause an infection.
How does CPAP increase the risk of pneumonia still further? One possibility is that the machines can become contaminated with bacteria. These would then be forced into the lungs through the positive air pressure the machine creates. However, more research is needed to clarify the link between CPAP treatment and pneumonia.
It’s important to recognize that, although the study found a link between sleep apnea and pneumonia, it didn’t prove that sleep apnea causes pneumonia. There could be some underlying condition that causes both of these conditions. More research is needed to determine whether sleep apnea actually causes pneumonia, and whether treatments for sleep apnea (other than CPAP) would reduce the risk.
Woodinville sleep apnea clinic
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, then you should strongly consider getting an evaluation and treatment for the condition. We offer treatment with oral devices, a convenient and comfortable form of treatment. Most patients respond well to this form of treatment. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea could reduce the risk of pneumonia, high blood pressure, stroke, and many other serious health conditions. To set up an evaluation, contact us today.