Sleep Apnea Awareness Week

Sleep Apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep. Pauses occur several times per hour and last for over 10 seconds. As the blood-oxygen levels decrease, the brain awakens the individual which often leads to a loud gasp or snort. Sleep apnea is associated with snoring,  witnessed pauses in breathing, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

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Sleep apnea is usually a chronic condition. Most people have sleep apnea for years before being diagnoses. When breathing appears to stop or become shallow, the sleeper comes out of a deep sleep and moves to a light sleep or awakens. This results in very poor quality sleep, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness.

A General Summary of Sleep Apnea

Generally Sleep Apnea goes undiagnosed for a long time. It can’t be detected during a routine Doctor’s appointment, and there’s no blood test to diagnose it. In fact most sufferers don’t even know they have it because it occurs during sleep: usually the person who does know you have it is your partner, or family member.

Sleep Apnea Treatments

Picture of obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of Sleep Apnea. The airway either becomes blocked or collapses during sleep, resulting in pauses in breathing, or very shallow breathing. When you do try to breath, the air that manages to squeeze through the blockage can create loud snoring. This kind of Sleep Apnea is often found in people who are overweight or obese, but it can and does affect anyone at all.      In fact, it’s quite common in children whose tonsils are enlarged.

Central Sleep Apnea

A less-common type of Sleep Apnea is Central Sleep Apnea. When the area of your brain which controls breathing fails to send the correct signals to your breathing muscles, the result is Central Sleep Apnea. The result is that for brief periods of time you’ll make no effort at all to breathe. Although this type of Sleep Apnea is not as common as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it can still affect anyone at all. It does,         however, appear to be more common in those who are using specific medications or who are suffering from certain medical conditions. Typically, snoring doesn’t occur with Central Sleep Apnea. It should be noted that Central Sleep Apnea can occur by itself, or it can occur with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea can be very serious when untreated because –

  • There’s an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and diabetes;
  • It makes irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias, much more likely;
  • It increases the risk of heart failure; and
  • There’s a greater risk of having a driving incident, or work-related accident.

Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious condition that requires management for the long-term. Treatment can be in the form of breathing devices such as mouthpieces, CPAP mask, and other breathing devices; surgery is also an option in some cases, and there are lifestyle changes that can and should be made.

Article Resource : American Sleep Assocation

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