Sleep apnea is a common disorder that may have serious effects if left untreated. It is estimated that around three to seven percent of the population suffer from this sleep disorder. The lack of restorative sleep during nighttime may result to fatigue, sleepiness, and irritability during the daytime. Worse, sleep apnea may result to severe complications such as heart diseases, stroke, and liver problems.
What is Sleep Apnea and Its Causes?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing gets interrupted during sleep, mainly due to the collapse of the upper airways. When this occurs, the brain and the rest of the body may not get the required oxygen, leaving the potential to cause serious disorders.
Sleep apnea may be classified as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or central sleep apnea (CSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common condition and happens when there is a blockage in the airway, causing the individual to have breathing problems during sleep. In central sleep apnea, there is no blockage but the brain is unable to send signals to the muscles to breathe, largely due to the instability of the respiratory control center.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Symptoms for both types of sleep apnea may be very similar that it would be difficult to distinguish the exact condition and may require further evaluations from the healthcare provider. For both these conditions the symptoms include the following:
· Snoring that can be very loud
· Heavy sleepiness during the daytime
· Breathing may stop and start during sleep
· Sudden awakening along with shortness of breath
· There might a dryness in the mouth and throat
· Headaches and even drowsiness the following morning
· Difficulty in falling and maintaining sleep
What are the Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea?
While sleep apnea may affect anyone including children, there are factors that have been identified to increase the risk of getting this disorder. Among these are the following:
· Excess weight wherein fat deposits may obstruct the upper airways
· Having a thick neck increases risk due to having a narrower airway
· A narrowed airway which may be hereditary or due to an enlarged tonsil or adenoids
· Males are twice more likely to have sleep apnea than women
· Older persons have increased risks of sleep apnea
· Smokers and those who consume alcohol
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Sleep apnea is a serious condition and would require the attention of a medical specialist. Once diagnosed by your doctor, he may recommend a number of treatment methods. There may be medications that will be prescribed in addition to making lifestyle and behavioral changes. For the moderate to severe cases, there may be a need to use devices such as the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). If the doctor determines the condition as very severe, there might be a need for a surgical procedure. Extensive research about new and more painless sleep apnea treatments continues even into today.
Call 1.877.430.2727 for help.
Written and Edited by Bill Bistak B Sc.,SEO/SEM Spc, CRT
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