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Sleep Apnea: Here's All You Need To Know About The Serious Disorder

By Varsha Pappachan

Many people suffer from sleep-related disorders which may or may not seriously affect their mental, physical or emotional well-being. Some of the known sleep disorders are sleep-walking, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, teeth grinding, and so on. These disorders are caused due to disruptions or irregularities in the sleep pattern. Through this article, let us understand the facts related to Sleep Apnea, which is one of the most commonly experienced sleep disorders.

If you are a person who, while sleeping, has random and shallow breathing patterns or frequent momentary pauses for a few seconds in breathing, then you may be suffering from Sleep Apnea. It may be serious or non-serious, depending on the severity and frequency. Usually, a snorting or choking sound occurs after the breathing continues. Loud snoring is one of the results of Sleep Apnea. Lethargy or sleepiness during the day is another result of the interrupted sleep.

sleep apnea causes

Since the breathing patterns get affected during Sleep Apnea, the supply of oxygen to the body cells and the brain also gets obstructed. As soon as the breathing pauses, the carbon dioxide levels increase in the blood circulation. The brain gets a signal to prompt the sleeping person to wake up and breathe in air, before falling asleep again, thereby normalizing the oxygen levels.

Sleep Apnea can be classified into three major types, namely, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and Mixed Apnea. The most commonly reported category is the Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA. Usually, adults with excess weight may have the OSA, because of the soft tissue around the air passage. Old age, any sort of reduction in muscle tone, permanent or temporary injury to the brain, sinusitis, heredity, allergies, etc., are some of the reasons that cause OSA. In children, the OSA could happen due to obstruction in tonsils or adenoids and may be curable.

The diagnosis of Sleep Apnea depends on evaluation of the signs and symptoms of the patient. Monitoring of sleep and breathing pattern overnight helps the physician determine the severity to suggest the further therapy or treatment. For the OSA, an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctor would help get rid of any blockages in the throat or nose.

A patient diagnosed with the CSA may be referred to a cardiologist or neurologist. For severe as well as moderate Sleep Apnea, a common treatment is the CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This treatment is done using a mask and a hose to ensure the delivery of constant and steady air pressure. This treatment can help reduce Sleep Apnea and get rid of snoring.

According to statistics, 80% cases of moderate to severe Sleep Apnea stay undiagnosed. It is an interesting fact that snoring may or may not happen for each patient of sleep apnea. Usually, people suffering from Sleep Apnea may wake up gasping for air more than 25 times within a single hour. Males, in comparison to females, have a higher ratio of Sleep Apnea.

For patients not responding to the aforementioned treatments, a surgery may be an option. Such patients could benefit through jaw-removal, repositioning of jaw, making of new airway or implants of plastic rods in the soft palate.

Apart from the treatments, certain changes voluntarily included in the daily routine could also help cure the Sleep Apnea. In case you are overweight, then losing excess weight is a must, and regular exercising could help. Avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, tranquilizers (or any such medicines) and smoking are a few suggestions. The preferred sleeping posture would be on the side or abdomen instead of the back, and could help keep the airway unblocked. Saline nasal drops or spray could also help keeping the nose passages clearer to encourage reduction of Sleep Apnea.

In a nutshell, Sleep Apnea can be chronic, but curable over a period of time. It may have some indirect and even adverse effects such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart-related ailments such as stroke, depression, irritability, waking up with dry mouth or dry throat, etc.

So, based on the symptoms, if you feel you or your loved ones might be suffering from Sleep Apnea, then it would be advisable to consult the doctor at the earliest. After proper diagnosis, your doctor would be able to deduce the seriousness and suggest the appropriate remedy for it. It would assuredly improve and maintain a healthy life by helping eliminate the risk factors or side-effects caused by Sleep Apnea.

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    Read more about: sleep disorder
    Story first published: Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 23:00 [IST]
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