Sleep apnea risk in subjects with asthma with or without comorbid rhinitis

Respir Care. 2014 Dec;59(12):1851-6. doi: 10.4187/respcare.03084. Epub 2014 Jun 10.


Background: As many as 80% of patients with asthma suffer from allergic rhinitis (AR), and rhinitis symptoms are associated with sleep complaints The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome risk in patients with asthma and to explore the association between comorbid rhinitis and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome risk.

Methods: Subjects with asthma were recruited by general practitioners during a control visit. Physicians compiled a questionnaire that assessed the presence of AR according to ARIA (Allergic Rhinitis and Its Impact on Asthma) guidelines and factors influencing the risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (gastroesophageal reflux disease, obesity, smoking). Subjects completed a questionnaire evaluating the presence and severity of AR and the STOP-BANG questionnaire (snoring, tiredness during daytime, observed apnea, high blood pressure, body mass index, age, neck circumference, gender), a validated screening method to identify obstructive sleep apnea syndrome risk. Physicians were blinded to the subjects' questionnaires, ensuring objectivity of the method.

Results: The analyses were conducted on 1,941 subjects (males 58%, mean age 48.2 ± 15.2 y): 740 with asthma alone and 1,201 with asthma and AR. STOP-BANG revealed that 52.6% of the subjects were at increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: 47.3% of subjects with asthma alone and 55.9% of patients with asthma and AR. Rhinitis was associated with a 1.44 times higher odds ratio for having obstructive sleep apnea syndrome risk. Rhinitis duration and severity were associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome risk, although the latter deserved greater importance. The results showed that, once a correction for each of these factors was performed, subjects with AR with an odds ratio of 1.99 were reported to be at risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

Conclusions: The probable increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is associated with the concomitant presence of rhinitis, independent of obesity and other contributors to risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

Keywords: STOP-BANG; allergic rhinitis; asthma; obstructive sleep apnea syndrome; risk; sleep apnea.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors