Are you experiencing sleepiness during day? Do others complain about your loud snoring? Do you lack the feeling of freshness after getting up in the morning? If one or all of these are true in your case, you may be suffering from a condition called sleep apnea. This is a sleep disorder and if you have it, you should become alert and treat it at the earliest. Earth’s Wisdom will today tell you how to identify it, its causes and treatments.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which breathing stops for some time during sleep and starts again. Due to this, the person’s sleep is not restful and so, he doesn’t feel fresh after waking up and feels tired and sleepy during the day.
The pause in breathing during sleep can be caused either by a blocked airway or problem in signaling in the brain. The first type is more common and the condition is called OSA or obstructive sleep apnea, whereas the latter is called CSA or central sleep apnea.
The person stops breathing repeatedly all through the sleep. Once the airway is opened or the breathing signal is restored, he may snuffle, take a deep breath or get awakened completely because of a feeling of smothering, gasping or choking.
If remains untreated, sleep apnea can cause other potentially serious health issues like depression and heart disease. It can also make the person feel sleepy, thereby increasing the risk of accidents during driving or working.
Following are the factors that can cause blocking or collapse of airway:
Physical Obstructions: Abnormally thickened tissue or fat around the airway can restrict the airflow. In that condition, the air squeezes past and makes loud snoring noise.
Muscular Changes: During sleep, muscles that keep the airway open relax, together with tongue, thereby making the airway narrow. This doesn’t prevent the airflow normally, but in sleep apnea, it does.
Brain Function: In case of CSA, the neurological controls for breathing are defective and cause malfunctioning of rhythm and control of breathing.
A person having a large neck circumference is more at risk of having sleep apnea. This is more than 17 inches in men and more than 15 inches in women.
The person with sleep apnea may not notice but other person may notice how he stops breathing, grunts or gasps suddenly, wakes up and again sleeps.
Other symptoms are:
Sleep apnea is associated to overall declined health and an increased risk of life-threatening issues like difficulty in concentrating, motor vehicle accident, depression and even stroke and heart attack.
Based upon the cause and degree of apnea, treatments may differ. The objective of the treatment is to make the breathing normal during sleep.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Therapy
This is a frontline treatment of sleep apnea and keeps the airway open by providing a constant blow of positive air pressure through a mask. Some people may face issues with the mask and stop the treatment before getting the benefits. But mask settings can be adjusted and even moisture can be added to the air flowing through the mask to relieve nasal symptoms.
OSA can be treated with various surgical procedures to widen the airway, shrink or stiffen obstructing tissue or remove enlarged tonsils or excess tissue.
MRD (Mandibular Repositioning Device)
For persons with mild to moderate OSA, a device named MRD is used which is a mouthpiece that holds the jaw in a forward position during sleep thereby enlarges the space behind the tongue so that upper airway can remain open, thus preventing snoring and apnea.
But this device can give rise to some other issues like pain in jaw or tooth, and aggravation of temporomandibular joint disease.
If you are seeing symptoms of sleep apnea, visit your doctor and get the condition treated because it may be life threatening.
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