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Sleep Apnea

It’s a medical condition that’s prevalence is growing. People don’t realise how serious sleep apnea is, particularly Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The condition causes people to stop breathing or breathe significantly less for periods of time, while sleeping.

Apnea (the suspension of breathing) can occur between 5 and 30 time per hour and can last up to few minutes, in some cases. As you can imagine, the condition can have severe health implications and can cause serious cognitive impairment.

Let’s explore the condition further.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

There aren’t any definite causes of the condition. Essentially, although not strictly, it’s a neural condition. There are factors which can make you more at risk for the condition. These include:

• Family history
• Being overweight
• People over the age of 65
• Smokers
• People with thick necks
• Males are more at risk than females
• Having narrow breathing passages

Having a generally healthy lifestyle is said to be a good preventative measure against sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Symptoms you can observe
• Drowsiness during your waking hours, regardless of hours slept
• Morning headaches
• Frequent night-time awakenings

Symptoms that someone else will have to observe

• Very loud snoring
• Extreme respiratory reaction, such as gasping or chocking during sleep
• Long pauses in breathe while sleeping

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

The only way to formally diagnose sleep apnea is through a formal sleep study (Polysomnography). It involves having a range of sensors attached to various parts of the body which monitor such things as the blood’s oxygen levels, air velocity through the breathing passages and chest movement.

Before getting it tested though, you should go and see a GP who will check your nose, mouth and throat to see if there are any irregularities and he will do the standard respiratory checks with a stethoscope.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Treatment for OSA will depend on the severity of the condition. Less obstructive cases will often only require a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), which is a mouthpiece which pushes your lower jaw forward.

In incredibly severe sleep apnea cases, sometimes the only viable treatment is surgery. This is normally only when the condition is becoming life threatening. Surgeries can range to light shrinking of the soft palate to invasive procedures which push the lower and upper jaw forward.

Other cases of require the use of a sleep apnea machine. This is known as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. You attach a mask, connected to the machine, to your nose and it air it pushed through to keep the breathing passages from collapsing.

The above treaments won’t help with Central Sleep Apnea, which is a completely neural condition.

Possible Prognosis

There have been many conditions that have been said to result from sever sleep apnea such as:

• Cardiovascular disease
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• Clinical depression
• Stroke
• Tumours through Angiogenesis promotion
• A range of other hearth conditions

SnoreMate - 18 Oct 2012