The cause and effect behind your health issues
Ever wondered why you get headaches in the middle of the night, or why you can’t stop sneezing in the morning? These can strike for many reasons, but it’s the time of day they occur that offers clues to working out their causes and subsequently, how to treat them.
Dr Louise Selby revealed to dailymail.co.uk why timing is everything.
Dr Selby says that morning headaches are usually due to sleep apnoea - a condition that causes interrupted breathing and snoring. When a person suffers from sleep apnoea, the level of carbon dioxide rises in the blood, creating a build-up of acid which leads to headaches in the morning.
Daytime headaches can be caused by dehydration thanks to too much caffeine, says Dr Selby. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect, inhibiting the reabsorption process of fluid and causing the majority of water in our system to be passed through the bladder.
By the end of the day, stress and eye strain can lead to tension headaches. The muscles around our eyes are overworked from looking at a screen, which can trigger nerves to transmit pain signals to the brain. To limit the risk of eye strain, Dr Selby suggests taking regular breaks to rest your eyes.
The main cause of morning sneezing is allergy. The sneeze reflex is suppressed during sleep, so people with allergies only start sneezing when they wake, explains Selby. Air conditioning can also dry out the nasal passages, leading to sinusitis and morning sneezing.
Selby says that sneezing throughout the day is more likely to be caused by a virus, such as the common cold. “You are more likely to have a temperature if you are sneezing through the day due to a virus”, she says.
Sneezing that’s worse at the end of the day may be down to hay fever. Pollen rises throughout the day, then, as the temperatures drop in the evening, it begins to fall back to the ground, exposing us to a higher level of pollen.
Coughing first thing in the morning can be caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the umbrella term for lung conditions including bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
Much like sneezing, coughing throughout the day is generally due to a viral infection, however if you cough after a meal, it could be gastric reflux, says Selby.
Night-time coughing is common in people with asthma, when our breathing is naturally slower, resulting in less effective transfers of oxygen into the bloodstream. Our bedrooms are also full of common allergy triggers, including dust mites which can trigger more severe symptoms in the evening.
Waking up with an itch or rash is generally due to insect bites. “If you’re bitten during the night, you only feel it when you wake,” says Selby. Bites from bed bugs aren’t felt at the time, because they inject anaesthetic chemicals to prevent you from waking.
Daytime itches could be a sign of urticaria - skin irritations triggered by exposure to the sun which causes hives.
Those who experience skin itching which worsens at night might suffer from a mild irritation caused by the constant contact between their skin and bedding. However, Selby says a lot of people who suffer from liver disease often complain of skin itching at night which is more severe on the soles of the feet and palms.