Sleep Apnea Fundamentals
Sleep apnea is a problem described by the disruption of breathing during sleep.
In Greek, apnea literally means “without breath”. If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can lead to some very serious health issues.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The most ordinary type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.
This problem is characterized by a blocking of the air way that allows us to breathe. Some of the more common reasons people experience Obstructive sleep apnea:
- Number of blockages
- A large uvula
- Deformation of the jaw
- Excess weight
- Deformation of the nasal cavity
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea, the other type of sleep apnea, occurs when the brain’s breathing signaling goes awry, causing the afflicted person to stop breathing without any obstruction causing the problem.
A case of sleep apnea is diagnosed when a person is found to have periods of apnea lasting 10 seconds or longer frequently throughout the night. These apneas can cause the afflicted person to wake from sleep, gasping for air.
People with sleep apnea often complain of sore throats due to the friction of the uvula and the soft palate that occurs when one experiences apnea attacks. While sleep apnea is usually accompanied by snoring, it is by no means essential.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Many people with sleep apnea do not snore at all. An intense daytime exhaustion persisting for a long period of time is one of the main sleep apnea symptoms. This is due to the fact that people with this disorder wake up many times in their sleep, causing a lack of good, REM sleep.
People with apnea also tend to experience
- Trouble with concentration
- Intense irritability
Weight gain is also common among apnea sufferers, as well as an increased heart rate and depression. If you think that you or someone you love is afflicted with sleep apnea, you can head to a hospital for a polysomnography test.
This test includes a monitoring of a person’s sleep patterns, and is entirely painless. Polysomnography is often covered by insurance carriers, so it can’t hurt to check.
An overnight study is necessary, and the results of this study can greatly determine whether or not a person has apnea.
When a case of apnea is diagnosed, the most common sleep apnea treatment is called a CPAP. This stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and it is performed via an air compressor that forces air into the air way on a regular basis, ensuring sound breathing.
In more serious cases of sleep apnea, surgery may need to be performed to eliminate any obstructions that may be causing OSA. If you think that you may have sleep apnea, it is vital to get tested for it.
Long term effects of sleep apnea include an increased chance of irregular heartbeat, hypertension, and strokes. Also, the chance of being in traffic accidents increases to 700% when untreated apnea is present. Sleep apnea treatment is possible, so the quicker that you act the better.