Sleep Apnea Ranges From Fatigue to Death!

What is Sleep Apnea? 
Sleep Apnea is a night time breathing disorder that affects more than 15 million of Americans. Sleep apnea affects both men and women of all ages; even children can develop sleep apnea syndrome. Most people who display sleep apnea symptoms do not realize that they have this sleep disorder; even though their sleep is frequently interrupted throughout the night.

Sleep Apnea Syndrome PhotoSleep Apnea syndrome is a condition involving pauses or decreases in breathing during sleep, which usually occurs due to airway closure. This collapse happens in the nose and/or the throat, where air enters the nostrils and to the back of the tongue. Frequently, sleep apnea syndrome is inherited and can start in the childhood. During sleep, the throat muscles become relaxed and the brain is not as attentive to the breathing and on inhalation the airway walls can either completely collapse or significantly narrow. This creates a problem because the body struggles to breathe and the brain has to “turn on” to reopen the airway.

Sleep apnea sufferers wake up often throughout the night, it caused by oxygen is being restricted or completely cut off. The sleep apnea syndrome can continue unnoticed because sufferers do not fully awake to recognize they are waking. With sleep apnea, breathing may temporarily stop or become shallow hundreds of times during a night’s sleep.

These frequent awakenings lead to fragmentation of night time sleep. In fact, patients with sleep apnea can wake-up more than 30 times an hour and think that they slept uninterrupted through the night. Since sleep must be continuous and unified in order to be restorative, a number of problems can occur with sleep deprivation: daytime sleepiness, memory problems, concentration difficulties, emotional instability, irritability, slowed reaction time, and an increased risk of vehicle accidents.

Who sleep apnea affects?
Sleep Apnea can affect anyone but men are at greater risk. The risk increases if person is overweight and over forty years old. Other risk factors include a large neck size; 17 inches or greater for men or 16 inches or greater for women. Large tonsils or a large amount of tissue at the back of your throat can cause increased blockage and higher risk as well. Sleep Apnea can run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component.

Sleep Apnea Types
Sleep Apnea not only devastates your sleeping cycle it also affects your body. There are three categories of sleep apnea. All three might be equally lethal.

Sleep Apnea imageObstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome is a widespread type of sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the air passage at the back of the throat becomes blocked. When muscles in the throat relax, this causes the soft palate to relax as well, which then narrows the airway. The same course of events causes snoring, although, not all people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea.

When the airway gets obstructed, it lowers the level of oxygen in the blood and leads to a condition known as hypoxia. The airflow restriction causes a gasping sensation, which prompts a period of shallow wakefulness. While partially awake, normal breathing is restored. This persistent blockage of the airway can happen several times an hour, causing a fragmented night of sleep.

It also elevates the blood pressure and increases stress on the heart. This state prevents the sufferer from entering into sound sleep which leads to the lack of quality sleep. A person suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea snores, wakes up choking and tries desperately to fell asleep again.

Central Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea is not common. It takes its name from the Central Nervous System, which regulates the body’s necessary functions. This Sleep Apnea Syndrome occurs when the brain fails to send impulses to the body to breath. As a result signal to breathe is delayed; and throat breathing, abdominal breathing and oral breathing cease simultaneously. Though the interruption in breathing lasts a few seconds, it lowers the oxygen level in the blood and tissues significantly. A person suffering from central sleep apnea experiences high blood pressure, irregular heart beat and even heart stroke. People who suffer from heart failure or other heart and lung conditions may also develop Central Sleep Apnea.

Mixed Sleep Apnea
Mixed Sleep Apnea is a condition characterized by experiencing the combination of two Sleep Apnea syndromes— Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Signs
Sleep Apnea and Insomnia
There are many different effects sleep apnea syndrome can cause, both physically and mentally, ranging from mildly irritating to life threatening. The most obnoxious symptom associated with the sleep apnea disorder is loud, pronounced snoring interspersed with gasping for air. When the throat collapses, the body will go without air for a second or two until it rouses and forces the throat open to breath. This gasping sound increases the level of snoring. Another common sign of sleep apnea is a sore or dry throat and headache in the morning. Headaches due to sleep apnea typically are associated with the oxygen deprivation suffered during the sleep.

Frequently people with sleep apnea syndrome wake several times during the night, sometimes by their own snoring, or from a choking or gasping sensation caused by their airway being blocked. These wakeful periods during the night interrupt sleep cycle and cause daytime sleepiness, which is another well documented sleep apnea symptom.

Upon waking in the morning, a person with sleep apnea syndrome often feel tired and disoriented. Some other symptoms include: forgetfulness, mood swings, headaches or a decreased sex drive. Among sleep apnea symptoms are rapid weight gain, lethargy, high blood pressure, lack of concentration and even depression. The sleep apnea symptoms can be confused with symptoms of depression because they are so similar; personality changes, irritability, mood swings, memory problems, feeling lethargic and feeling depressed are some of the shared similarities.

Illness, such as a cold or flu, can increase the frequency of sleep apnea. A person may suffer from dozens of episodes a night, but only remember waking once or twice, even though their natural sleep cycles and rhythms are disturbed. It may take longer than usual to get started on the day and feeling of drowsiness will persist through the whole day.

A person with sleep apnea syndrome never gets a solid night's rest and will begin to show symptoms of sleep disorder. In some cases, where the sleep apnea goes untreated for years, the constant sleep deprivation can impair job performance, social interactions, weight loss efforts and more. While sleep apnea can be treated, knowing whether the problem is physical (obstructive) or neurological (central) or a combination (mixed) can help a doctor diagnose and treat the root causes as well as the actual sleep apnea.

Causes of Sleep Apnea
There can be several causes that lead to the obstruction of your airway passage during sleep, leading to Sleep Apnea. One of the major reasons is that the throat muscles and tongue relax and shrink excessively than normal.

If you are overweight, the soft tissue in the throat can become stiff and enlarged and causes obstruction in the airway passage. The other reasons could be increased size of your adenoids and tonsils, which further contribute in the disruption of flow of air.

Overweight men, over the age of 40 are at the highest risk to develop sleep apnea syndrome, but it can affect anyone including children. Sleep apnea in children may be related to increased the tonsils and adenoids.

Obstructive sleep apnea is related to enlarged tissue in the throat area. The enlarged area of soft tissue collapses, blocking the passage of air through the throat. Some doctors suggest that losing weight may alleviate some of the issues associated with too much tissue and that surgery to remove excess tissue may be an option if more non-invasive methods are unsuccessful in treating sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is distinct because it is neurologically based. The brain is failing to send the correct messages to the muscles that control breathing. Central Sleep Apnea may be related to stroke, brain injury, encephalitis, neurological diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's), cervical spine damage or complications from surgery.
Excessive use of alcohol or any other sedatives before sleep may contribute to sleep apnea significantly.

Untreated sleep apnea leads to a series of health issues including (but not limited to) high blood pressure, memory problems, impotency, headaches and weight gain.

Sleep Apnea Treatments
Mechanical Treatment or Physical Therapy
• Behavioral Treatment
There are many treatments available for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The common ones include losing weight, avoiding alcohol consumption during the evening and sleeping on the side. Medical treatments include Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and Oxygen Administration. Surgeries are also can be done, tracheotomy is a surgery used in treatment of severe Sleep Apnea syndrome.

The treatment of Central sleep apnea depends on the root of the problem. If it is a result of another desiese, for example, congestive heart failure, then the main condition is treated. In this case, the physician would address the congestive heart failure and by doing so, it should take care of the central sleep apnea and the patient should not experience sleep apnea again. If the Central sleep apnea syndrome is caused by other reasons, then the treatment options can vary.

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Lisa said...

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