Sleep Apnea Increases Risk Of Pneumonia, Says New Study

Sleep apnea sufferers have a higher risk of getting pneumonia than those who do not suffer from the sleep condition, Canadian researchers say.

In a study published by the Canadian Medical Journal, scientists concluded that the occurrence of the sleep disorder may lead to a higher chance of getting the deadly lung infection.

The research involved 34,100 people, all of which have healthy lungs and are above 20 years of age. Among the participants, 6,815 were officially diagnosed with sleep apnea. The participants were observed and studied by the researchers for 11 years.

What they found out during the decade-long study was that 9.36 percent of those who suffered from sleep apnea also reported or were admitted for pneumonia while only 7.7 percent of those who didn’t have the condition developed the lung disease.

They also found that those with more severe sleep apnea had a higher risk of getting pneumonia than those with lesser or milder versions of the disorder.

The study concludes that sleep apnea is an independent risk factor of pneumonia, just like cigarette smoking or excessive alcohol intake.

According to CBC News, the researchers believe that the susceptibility of those who suffered from sleep apnea to pneumonia may possibly come from the weaker immune system they have because of lack of sleep. Because the immune system is weakened due to lack of sleep, pneumonia-causing pathogen are more likely to infect those with the sleeping condition.

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes a sufferer to have shallow and paused breathing during sleep. This makes interruptions a common part of whatever is left of their sleep.

Despite disturbing 18 million Americans nightly, sleep apnea is one of the most mysterious sleep disorders and diagnosis is often tricky for specialists. Many who suffer from the condition don’t even know they have it.

Some symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring, memory and learning problems, morning headaches and sore throat immediately after waking up. To know if you have sleep apnea, there is a simple questionnaire prepared by health non-profit Health Guide that can help you know if you suffer from the condition. However, only a doctor can tell for sure if you suffer from the sleeping disorder.

In an unrelated study in the US, it was discovered that sleep apnea compromised the blood sugar level of those with Type 2 diabetes. There has also been a couple of studies that suggest that sleep apnea and other sleep-depriving conditions may contribute to the occurrence and development of diabetes.

[Image from J J via Flickr]