Obstructive Sleep Apnea Increases COVID-19 Severity
written by/ May 31, 2021
A new study published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research revealed that Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) was an independent risk factor for developing a severe case of COVID-19 that requires hospitalization.
But, before we get ahead of ourselves, what is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Well, simply put, sleep apnea is a phenomenon that occurs during sleep where the sleeper stops breathing anywhere from 20 seconds to 3 minutes. Moreover, an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea — hence why it’s qualified as a “hidden epidemic.”
In addition, if breathing stops due to the blockage of air passageways, the apnea is characterized as obstructive.
Yet, how exactly does OSA increase the severity of COVID-19?
First of all, OSA was present in over 20% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the study. Secondly, those with OSA and severe COVID-19 were over twice as likely to be hospitalized compared to other patients with severe COVID-19. Thirdly, OSA mostly affects overweight people, older adults, and men, which all fit the COVID-19 risk group as well.
OSA patients were represented in larger numbers both among the hospitalized and among those in need of more extended inpatient care.
The exact reasons behind this occurrence remain unknown. Yet, the correlation between sleep quality and immunity is the primary suspect.
Newer studies even show that poor sleep might affect COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.
As such, you may want to rethink your attitude towards treating your sleep apnea.
For example, you can try different methods such as proning or even using a CPAP machine to prevent a potential trip to the COVID-19 hospital wing.
At any rate, the question remains: will CPAP users (namely, severe OSA patients), just like those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), be prioritized for vaccination?