Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
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Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Sleep Apnea: Causes, Types and Treatment

One of the best ways to relax the body is by sleeping. But sometimes it happens that even after many hours of sleep, we wake up tired. Possibly, sleep apnea can be the possible cause of your suffering.

WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA

Sleep apnea occurs as 10-30 seconds of breathing interruptions during sleep, and it can happen hundreds of times during a single night. This prevents the person to get the essential relaxation during the sleep, that of course, affects the performance the subsequent day.

The common symptoms of sleep apnea are:

• Weak reflexes

• Irritability

• Nervousness

• Drowsiness throughout the day

• Low concentration power

The Long-term consequences of sleep apnea are related to diseases that can cause:

• Diabetes

• High blood pressure

• Myocardial infarction

• Obesity

TYPES OF SLEEP APNEA

1. Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common type of sleep apnea. The air flow is interrupted by obstruction either due to relaxation of throat and tongue muscles or individual features in the anatomy of the throat, nose or mouth. It is often accompanied with snoring.

2. Central sleep apnea: This is comparatively rare. The nervous system does not properly sending signals to the muscles that control breathing. This also causes patients to snore.

3. Mixed sleep apnea: This involves a combination of both types of apnea-obstructive and central apnea.

Whatever be the cause of sleep apnea, it outcome is decreased concentration of oxygen in blood.

SYMPTOMS OF SLEEP APNEA

As the symptoms occur mostly during sleep, it is difficult to detect the symptoms by the same person. Another person to observe the symptoms of the affected person proves quite helpful in this time.

• Snoring

• Strange sounds during sleep

• Respiratory pauses

• Fatigue the next day

• Dry mouth or throat the next day

• Headache in morning

• Insomnia

• Lack of concentration and memory power

• Irritability and depression

CAUSES OF SLEEP APNEA

These following factors contribute more to increase the symptoms in all types of sleep apneas:

• Obesity: especially, if located in the upper body.

• Age over 65

• Family history of sleep apnea

For obstructive sleep apnea:

• Smoking

• Short neck

• Deviated nasal septum

• Enlarged tonsils

• Cervico-lateral adenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes in the neck)

• Allergies

• Conditions that cause nasal congestion.

For central apnea:

• Heart disease

• Neurological disorders

• Spinal and brain injury accidents.

HOW IS SLEEP APNEA DIAGNOSED

The correct diagnosis of sleep apnea is through polysomnography. It uses:

• Electrocardiogram to record heart rate

• EEG

• Electromyogram

• Thoracic and abdominal belts for respiratory movements

• Arterial blood oxygen saturation

• A microphone for recording sounds during sleep

• Video cameras to analyze the behavior

• Body position sensor

Based on these records, the following are determined: ventilation, occurrence of sleep apnea, and stages of sleep.

TREATMENT OF SLEEP APNEA

Sleep apnea is a condition that can be treated and controlled.

The most important measures towards the treatment are to be initiated by the patient. These include :

• Weight control

• Smoking cessation

• Avoid alcohol, sedatives or sleeping pills

• Avoid caffeine and oily foods

• Establish a fixed hour to sleep

• Avoid sleeping on back position

• Raising the head a little higher than the body level

• Improve nasal breathing by using decongestants.

Treatment of medium and severe sleep apnea is done by a machine called CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which removes the obstruction in the airway and keeps it open.

Surgical treatment of sleep apnea aims to rectify the malformations underlying the airway disease.

From snoring to severe disease, sleep apnea can also create problems in married life. It must be treated in time, to prevent any irreversible changes.

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