Sleep apnea is a health condition far more serious than what most would think of.
Sleep apnea is a health condition that happens when one's breathing during sleep stop for a while, usually 10 seconds or even longer.
Sleep apnea could happen 5 to 45 times per hour.
Sleep apnea is usually associated with choking sensations and often leads to headaches and sleepiness during the day. Its moderateness or severity is measured with respect to the frequency of episodes per hour, whether you have no breathing (apnea) or slower breathing (hyponea).
Sleep apnea occurs mostly but not limited to men and not specific to any age group. Loud snoring is usually associated with apnea. People with high blood pressure and obese are most likely to developed sleep apnea. Problems in the nose, throat, and air passageway can also cause sleep apnea. Early detection of sleep apnea is very important since it is usually implies an underlying health conditions such as heart problems.
In some cases, apnea happen when the muscles in the throat & tongue relax when one is sleeping, which eventually lead to blockage of the air passageway to some varying degree.
Then breathing becomes noisier, slow, or even stop for a while. Obese people have great possibilities of having sleep apnea since they have more tissue in the airway that makes it narrow for normal breathing.
Sleep apnea makes an active person feel sleepy in the morning and affects their concentration in work. Severe sleep apnea could lead to depression, memory loses, irritability, and other negative socio-psychological conditions.
Sleep apnea could increase the risk of having a heart attack, high blood pressure and even stroke. One should suspect having a sleep apnea disorder when the following conditions occur:
1. Heavy snoring during sleep while struggling to breath. This is usually monitored by the spouse or room mate.
2. Co-workers noticing one's lack of concentration at work and falling to sleep frequently.
3. Headaches upon waking up from sleep.
4. Frequent urination at night.
5. Heartburn during the night.
6. Frequent changing in sleep position restlessly.
7. Night time choking episodes.
Detecting sleep apnea is a collaborative effort among your family physician, neurologist, and pulmonologist. Among the tests for diagnosing person with such disorder are Polysommography and The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT).
Polysomnography monitors different functions of the body during sleep such as brain activity, movement of the eye, movement of the muscles, heart beating, blood oxygen. The test will also determine whether the condition is moderate or severe. The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) measures how fast the individual fall into sleep.
Normal people fall into sleep in 10 to 20 minutes on the average while people with sleep apnea disorder fall into sleep in 5 minutes or less. Additionally, MSLT is use to measure the daytime sleepiness of the person.
Types of treatments for sleep apnea;
1. Behavioral Therapy. Is usually all that is needed for a mild case. It changes the person behavior towards the use of alcohol, tobacco which affects the airway. For an obese person, the therapy also includes weight loss program. Overweight persons can benefit from losing weight. Even a small amount of weight loss will lower the frequency of apnea in majority of patients.
2. Physical or Mechanical Therapy. Here is one of the most effective ways of treating sleep apnea. During the therapy, the patient wears a mask on his nose during sleep while applying air pressure to the nasal passages. The therapy provides air pressure to keep the airway from narrowing.
3. Surgery for adults. Surgery is considered only when other alternative therapy failed or if the patient volunteered to. Surgery aims to remove unnecessary tissue build-up in the throat to open up the airway.
The best cure to sleep apnea is prevention. There are several ways to prevent one from having to develop sleep apnea and reduce the frequency of the attacks:
1. Many Sleep apnea patients are obese. Maintaining a healthy weight is a sure way to prevent the frequency of apnea episodes since it increases the volume of oxygen in the blood. Studies showed that a 10 percent decrease in weight would reduce the frequency of apnea episodes up to 26 percent.
2. Avoid or at least limit alcohol intake.
3. Avoid or limit the use of tranquilizers, sleeping pills.
4. Have time for enough sleep. Lack of sleep increase the frequency of apnea attacks.
5. Treat allergies and runny nose promptly.
6. Avoid sleeping on your back.
Sleep apnea is a serious disease. It could be just a symptom of other more serious illness such as hypertension and heart disease. Should you suspect having the symptoms, take time to visit your family physician. Early detection and diagnoses of sleep apnea could save your life.
Who Gets Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea: How dangerous is it?
Before reading through the rest of this chapter, please answer the following questions:
- Do you regularly snore a lot? Is your snoring so loud that you or someone is awakened by it?
- Does it ever happen to you that you wake up abruptly, often choking or gasping for air?
- At daytime, do you feel extremely sleepy? Even if youre doing something, do you have a hard time staying awake to finish it?
- Do you have dry mouth, headaches, sore throat once you wake up in the morning?
If you answer YES to all these questions, then you probably have the sleep disorder apnea.
Sleep apnea is a deadly sleep disorder that gets worse as you grow older. Not only is sleep apnea causes you sleep deprivation, but worse, it can pose danger to your life.
Anyone can have sleep apnea. According to recent statistics, at least 12 million American suffer from sleep apnea. Majority of those suffering from sleep apnea are overweight and heavily snorers.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea? These are:
- Snoring loudly and regularly;
- Are overweight;
- Suffering from high-blood pressure;
- Have small airways sized in the nose, mouth, and throat; and
- Has at least one from your family that have been suffering or suffered from apnea.
This sleep disorder affects more men than women. Out of 25 middle-aged guys, one suffers from sleep apnea while only one out of 50 women suffers from it.
Based on statistics, sleep apnea occurs more commonly in Americans of African descent, Hispanics, and those living in the Pacific Islands. If your family has a sleep apnea case, then it is highly probable that you would get one too.
Sleep apnea also occurs with children, with its most common symptom as snoring.
What are the common sleep apnea symptoms?
- Loud snoring
- Gasping or choking for air during sleep
- Drowsiness and extreme desire to sleep at day time, even while youre at work or driving
Others signs may include:
- Morning headaches
- Learning or memory problems
- Feeling irritable
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings or changes in personality
- Dry throat upon waking up
- At night, frequent urination
How could you diagnose if you have sleep apnea?
These are some ways to help specialists know if you have sleep apnea.
- Checking your medical history, including asking you, your family, and officemates on how you sleep and how you work at day
- Examining if you have large or extra tissues in your mouth, throat, or nose.
- Recording your sleep to check your breathing pattern.
How could you be treated for sleep apnea?
The goal in treating your sleep apnea is to restore back your regular breathing during the night and solving symptoms such as loud snoring and sleepiness during the day.
If you suffer from a mild case, some changes in your daily habits or activities could lead to the treatment.
- Stay away from alcoholic beverages, sleep-inducing medications, and smoking.
- Try to shed off some pounds if your weight borders on the plus side.
- Instead of sleeping on your back, try sleeping sideways.
People who have cases that are severe or even moderate should try these treatments:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
The most frequent treatment for moderate and severe sleep apnea cases, CPAP allows you to have the right amount of airway pressure in your mouth to keep the throat open as you sleep.
If not used correctly or abruptly stopped, your disorder will come back.
Ask your doctor for any possible effects from using CPAP.
A mouthpiece or an oral appliance may prove to be useful to those who have mild cases of sleep apnea.
A customized mouthpiece will keep your throat airways open as you sleep. Just check with your orthodontist or dentists if you might suffer from side effects. Make sure that the mouthpiece fits.
In some cases, surgery is the ultimate solution. You just have to consult with your doctor the nature of the surgery and if there are possible health repercussion after you have completed the surgery.
At present, there arent any medications yet that could treat sleep apnea. But this should not sadden you. With the help of medical specialists, solving your sleep apnea could be attainable.
How Sleep Apnea Manifests Insomnia
The clinical definition of a sleeping disorder is a disruptive pattern of sleep that may include difficulty in falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep.
There are four basic categories that each sleeping disorder can be put into: insomnia, hypersomnia, sleep disruptive disorders, and basic trouble with adhering to a normal sleep pattern.
Some symptoms of having a sleeping disorder are: difficulty in falling asleep, daytime drowsiness, loud snoring, fatigue, depression, anxiety and lower leg movements during sleep.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person's breathing stops during sleep for 10 seconds or more, sometimes more than 300 times a night.
There are two main types of sleep apnea. The first is Obstructive Sleep Apnea which may represent the stoppage of breathing due to a mechanical blockage of the airway. The second is Central Sleep Apnea which appears to be related to a malfunction of the brain's normal signal to breathe.
Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea may include restless sleep, loud and heavy snoring which is often interrupted by silence and then gasps, falling asleep while driving or when the person is at work or at home while watching TV, morning headaches, loss of energy, trouble concentrating, and mood or behavioral changes.
Snoring is usually associated with apnea. Snoring is defined as noisy breathing one occurs during sleep when the flow of air through the airways is blocked or when the airways vibrate during breathing.
Several factors tend to make people snore: nasal congestion, being overweight, smoking, drinking alcohol before bedtime, and sleeping on your back. Sleeping pills, painkillers and other drugs that cause drowsiness can also make snoring more likely.
Because a person is not able to sleep well or not get good nights sleep, some doctors are now conducting research to see how Apnea manifests insomnia since both interferes with the daytime functioning o f a person.
Some causes which still have to be confirmed are the certain medicines available in the market to treat such disorder; medical conditions, excess stress, or poor sleep habits can all affect the quality of your sleep.
To check if a person has a sleeping disorder, a diagnosis is made by a physician specially trained in sleep medicine. After a physical examination of the upper airway and an interview with lots of questions, if it the tests have determined that the patient has a sleeping disorder, one will have to undergo a polysomnogram (sleep test). Most sleep centers and labs monitor 16 different sleep parameters including EEG, EKG, eye movement, chin movement, air flow, chest effort, abdomen effort, SaO2, snoring and leg movement. Each parameter serves to help the physician make a correct diagnosis.
Test are conducted in a sleep room much like a motel room. A technician will paste electrodes at certain points on your head, face, body and legs. Those electrodes will be hooked to monitoring equipment that will record the entire night study.
Most patients do not experience anxiety or difficulty in going to sleep. The patients in most case are extremely sleepy and will be asleep in just a few minutes.
Once a correct diagnosis has been made, the doctor may recommend a variety of treatments available for those that suffer from sleep apnea, including medications, behavioral therapy, and, in extreme cases, surgery.
Although over-the-counter sleep aids may be helpful it is not advisable to use these products on a regular basis. These sleep aids don't eliminate the problem but only provide temporary relief and may become less effective after a few days of use.
Doctors however often recommend a prescription device called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device for patients with sleep apnea.
During sleep, the patient wears a mask that fits over the nose. The mask is attached to an air compressor adjusted to blow enough air through the nose to keep the airway open. If a CPAP device doesn't help, then surgery on the upper airway may be the last resort.
By developing good sleeping habits, one may be able to break the pattern of sleeplessness without needing other therapies. Good habits include going to bed and waking up at a regular time, eliminating naps, and avoiding stimulation from exercise or caffeine shortly before bedtime. Relaxation techniques and changes in diet can also help some people.
I have produced an excellent book on Sleep Apnea and Snoring. Written in plain English, my ebook Stop Snoring Solutions & Sleep Apnea Guide is easy to understand and apply to help you stop snoring fast.
Contributed by Murray Peck, Murray has produced a powerful self help website with over 150 FREE SELF HELP BOOKS and 1000 free personal development guides for your greater Happiness, Health and Prosperity at
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