Skip to content

Asthma Health Center

Select An Article

Nocturnal Asthma (Nighttime Asthma)

(continued)
Font Size

Nocturnal Asthma Causes continued...

GERD

If you are frequently bothered with heartburn, the reflux of stomach acid up through the esophagus to the larynx may stimulate a bronchial spasm. It's worse when lying down or if you take medications for asthma that relax the valve between the stomach and esophagus. Sometimes, acid from the stomach will irritate the lower esophagus and lead to constriction of your airways. If stomach acid backs up to your throat, it may drip down to the trachea, airways and lungs, leading to a severe reaction. This can involve airway irritation, increased mucus production, and airway tightening. Taking care of GERD and asthma with appropriate medications can often stop nighttime asthma.

Late Phase Response

If you are exposed to an allergen or asthma trigger, the chances are great that airway obstruction or allergic asthma will occur shortly afterward. This acute asthma attack ends within one hour.  About 50% of those who experience an immediate reaction also have a second phase of airway obstruction within three to eight hours of exposure to the allergen. This phase is called the late phase response, and it is characterized by an increase in airway responsiveness, development of bronchial inflammation, and a more prolonged period of airway obstruction. 

Many studies report that when allergen exposure occurs in the evening instead of in the morning, you are more susceptible to having a late phase response and are more likely to have one of greater severity. 

Hormones

Hormones that circulate in the blood have well‑characterized circadian rhythms that are seen in everybody. Epinephrine is one such hormone, which exerts important influences on the bronchial tubes. This hormone helps keep the muscle in the walls of bronchi relaxed so the airway remains wide. Epinephrine also suppresses the release of other substances, such as histamines, which cause mucus secretion and bronchospasm. Your epinephrine levels and peak expiratory flow rates are lowest at about 4:00 a.m., while histamine levels tend to peak at this same time. This decrease in epinephrine levels may predispose you to nocturnal asthma during sleep.

Next Article:

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
 
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
 
Los Angeles skyline in smog
Slideshow
man in a field with allergies
Slideshow
 
Woman holding inhaler
VIDEO
Slideshow Allergy Myths and Facts
Slideshow
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article