Sleep apnea is a disorder that has caused many premature deaths. It is important to diagnose sleep apnea as early as possible and treat the patient before complications arise.
What is sleep apnea?
It is a sleep disorder that causes your breath to stop while you are asleep. Each pause in breath lasts 10-20 seconds. This cessation of breath can occur more than 30 times in an hour.
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused when enough air does not reach your lungs. This is primarily due to the obstruction of the air passage. This is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) the most common type of apnea. The causes for OSA include weakening of throat muscles, obesity and enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Another type of sleep apnea called the Central apnea is caused when the region in the brain that controls breathing does not send proper breathing signals.
Who is at risk for OSA?
Anybody can have sleep apnea. It is more common in men. Findings reveal that one in every 25 middle-aged men and one in every 50 middle-aged women have apnea. It can also be hereditary. Others who are at risk are people who snore loudly, who are obese, and those with high blood pressure and a narrow air passage.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
The symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, insomnia, frequent gasping during sleep, lack of concentration, mood swings, morning headaches, memory problems, dryness of throat and frequent urination at night.
How is it diagnosed?
A sleep test is performed to ascertain whether the person has sleep apnea or not. The most common tool used is the polysomnogram. It is performed when the patient is asleep. It records the brain activity, eye movement, breathing, heart beat rate and percentage of oxygen in the blood. This test can be performed at a hospital or at home.
What is the treatment available for OSA?
CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway pressure is the treatment available for OSA. For this the patient wears a nasal mask. It pumps air at a constant pressure that suits the person. It also has a humidifier that prevents the drying up of the nasal passage.
What can I do to alleviate apnea?
Medication is advised to treat apnea, but you can also do certain things from your side to prevent the onset of apnea. They include reducing weight if you are obese, quitting smoking, lowering the intake of alcohol and avoiding medications like sleeping pills, or tranquilizers that affect breathing.Sleep Apnea FAQs