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What you need to know about sleep apnea

Daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and restless sleep are all the symptoms of sleep apnea which is a very common sleep disorder. An individual will unknowingly stop breathing during sleep.

Fast facts on sleep apnea

  • The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be seen in around 1 in 5 adults while 1 in 15 has moderate-to-severe symptoms. The woman with menopause and postmenopause have an increased risk of OSA.
  • It can affect individuals of all ages, including children though it’s more prevalent in people above 50.
  • Due to less awareness, only 20% of the 18 million Americans having this condition are treated and diagnosed.

Treatment

There are three different methods of treatment that can help cure sleep apnea and save the person from higher risk and life-threatening complications.

Lifestyle changes

In order to normalize breathing it is important to make certain lifestyle changes such as alcohol cessation, smoking cessation, weight loss, and side sleeping.

Other options

Some other options include:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy

This helps in keeping the airway open by gently providing a constant stream of positive pressure air through the mask. This is the frontline treatment for sleep apnea.

Surgery

There are various surgical procedures in order to stiffen or shrink the obstructive tissue, remove extra tissue or enlarged tonsils. This helps the OSA patients to widen their airway.

Mandibular repositioning device (MRD)

For patients with mild to moderate OSA, there is a mouthpiece that holds the jaw in a forward position during sleep. This helps in keeping the upper airway open by expanding the space behind the tongue.

Symptoms

The most common symptom among sleep apnea patients is sleepiness during the daytime. Other symptoms would include waking up at night, morning headache, loud snoring, heartburn, erectile dysfunction and others as well.

Causes

The blocking or the collapse of the airway can be caused due to various reasons:

Muscular changes

In sleep apnea the muscles that keep the airway open and relaxed along with the tongue causes the airway to narrow.

Physical obstructions

The airflow can be restricted through additional thickened tissue or excessive fat stores around the airway.

Brain function

The neurological controls for breathing are faulty which can cause malfunction to control and rhythm of breathing under central sleep apnea.

Risk factors

There are certain risk factors as obesity, menopause, large neck circumference, chronic sinusitis and others as well.

Complications

This would include metabolic syndrome, hypertension, mood changes, stroke, chronic fatigue and others that led to decreased quality of life.

Diagnosis

If anyone is feeling chronically tired or groggy during the day should consider going to a medical provider and determine the exact cause.

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