Thursday, November 7, 2013

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of a long list of sleep disorders that we find in today's society. It however may go unnoticed for long periods of time, or even years, as it shows only symptoms to the onlooker. In fact it can be very frightening for you if your partner suffers from the issue even though he or she will be asleep and blissfully unaware of your panic. Sleep apnea literally means pauses in breathing. To the on looker, it can be very easy to see, the person stopping breathing for short periods of time that are called apneas.
Depending on the severity of your condition, you may stop breathing up to thirty times a night as well as suffer from periods of hypo apnea when the body fails to breath deeply enough. The patient may stop breathing for what seem long periods of time, anything between seconds and minutes is quite normal. Although the sufferer is unaware of what is happening, he or she may suffer from fatigue during the daytime. Fatigue during the day is a symptom of restless sleep or interrupted sleep. A test which monitors our sleep, known as a polysomnogram can confirm if we are suffering from sleep apnea or another sleep related disorder.
It is important to understand why sleep apnea happens and how it can be prevented, both for the sufferer and those around him. Firstly we must understand the type of apnea we are suffering from. There are three kinds of sleep apnea; central, obstructive and mixed. Obstructive makes up for some 84% of all apnea cases, and means that there is something physically obstructing our breathing. When we are sleeping, our whole body relaxes, and the soft tissue in the throat area may stop enough air from circulating through our airways, causing the apneas.
There are many physical factors that can help us decide if the apnea from which we are suffering is obstructive, and many preventative measures to help this disturbing problem. Patients with online diabetes as well as obese patients are more likely to suffer from this disorder, obese patients simply having too much tissue in the throat area, obstructing the normal airways. Heavy smokers are also at high risk, as are people who drink heavily. If we consume large amounts of alcohol, or take sleeping tablets, then our tongue will often fall back into our throat and obstruct our breathing. Upper respiratory infections can also bring on attacks of sleep apnea as your throat can become swollen and inflamed.
The other kinds of sleep apnea are central sleep apnea and mixed. Central is relatively uncommon, accounting for just 0.4% of cases, and mixed a 15% of the total. Central sleep apnea is caused when our brain has an imbalance, in its' respiratory control, and simply forgets to breath. Mixed is somewhere between, or a mixture of O.S.A and C.S.A. One of the most common symptom of all types is loud snoring, although snoring can be caused by many other factors, and just because someone is snoring loudly does not mean that they are suffering from this disorder.
There are physical treatments and even operations available to help with this problem. A splint can be put in the mouth when you are sleeping to stop the tongue from falling back into the throat for example. But in general, there are many things we can do to help ourselves when we are suffering from sleep apnea. To start with, look towards if your weight is an issue. If you are obese, then you must do something positive to try and lose weight, as the problem will only worsen. Quitting smoking can help enormously with sleep apnea, and as well as being a great thing to do for our health it will save us money and allow us to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. You can try lying on your side to sleep, as in this position your tongue won't fall back into your throat. Cut down on alcohol intake and use of sleeping tablets and you will be amazed in the difference to how you sleep, as well as your health. If your sleep apnea is not related to alcohol, smoking or obesity, then look to sleeping on an inclined bed. An incline angle of around 30% can do wonders for patients of sleep apnea, allowing the air to circulate more freely. If you think that you or your partner or a family member may be suffering from sleep apnea, then consult a medical professional who will be able to confirm the diagnosis.

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