- 1 OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
- 1.1 Characteristics of obstructive sleep apnea
- 1.2 Consequences of obstructive sleep apnea
- 1.3 Physical and mental problems deriving from sleep apnea
- 1.4 Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea
- 1.5 Causes of obstructive sleep apnea
- 1.6 Other risk factors in the onset of apnea include:
- 1.7 Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
Characteristics of obstructive sleep apnea
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, lasting less than 10 seconds.
In front of a peaceful ordinary sleep, people with apnea usually have many interruptions in breathing, generally between 10 and 30 seconds (there are cases that a pause can last 1 minute or more).
It is believed that between 1 and 10% of adults are affected with this type of apnea, mainly in adult males over 40 and especially those with overweight, but it can affect people of any age, sex or condition.
It is a very important sleep disorder that, unfortunately, it is not diagnosed in many cases. In case your partner, parents or relatives show possible symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, you should advice them to look for a proper treatment.
Consequences of obstructive sleep apnea
After the pause, during which breathing is not heard (periods of apnea), there is a need to breathe harder and this is manifested as wheezing, noise and difficulties in breathing. Then, the person in question goes back to sleep, usually with loud snoring. Sleeping follows a normal pattern until a new respiratory pause appears again.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a fairly common disorder that can limit the life of people affected. Beside worsening the quality of sleep, this disorder origins many physical problems during the day (headache, chronic fatigue, etc.)
People with obstructive sleep apnea have very great difficulty to stay awake at home, at work or when driving, so that, it can be the source of many work or car accidents
Physical and mental problems deriving from sleep apnea
When the condition is not resolved, as time passes, it can cause other more serious consequences, derived from low oxygen levels in the body (hypoxia) and high carbon dioxide levels (hypercapnia). Among the most important ones we can point out:
– Sexual disorders (impotence)
– Metabolic disorders (Obesity)
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea
Some symptoms of this disease appear during sleep. Other symptoms occur during the day because of the problems involved in poor oxygenation of the body, known as hypoxia.
– During the night: respiratory pauses, snoring, breathing difficulties, wheezing, snorting, trouble sleeping, need to get up to urinate more often, and so on.
– During the day: Feeling of not having slept very little, need to sleep during the day, falling asleep without realizing it, unexplained exhaustion, poor concentration, decreased memory, headache, etc.
Causes of obstructive sleep apnea
The main cause of this disorder is the difficulty of swallowing air during sleep, caused by the collapse of the soft tissue at the back of the throat that obstructs the passage of air into the lungs. This may occur for several reasons:
– Narrow respiratory channel: Many people affected have a respiratory channel narrower than normal.
– Obesity: The accumulation of fat, especially in the neck, may hinder the passage of air through the throat. There is a very large proportion of obesity among people with obstructive sleep apnea.
– Short chin: People with shorter lower jaw are usually more prone to this disorder.
– Obstructions in the throat: The development of protuberances or polyps in the throat can also cause this problem.
– Large tonsils: The presence of a large tonsils may hinder the passage of air through the throat.
– Thick tongue: The presence of a very thick or big tongue may hinder the passage of air through the throat
– Long neck: People with long necks are usually more prone to this disorder.
– Problems in the nasal cavity: A blocked nose is another possible cause. Children with adenoids are more likely to suffer from this disorder when they grow up, if adenoids are not removed.
Other risk factors in the onset of apnea include:
– Alcohol intake: Alcohol relaxes the neck muscles which must be active for the airway to be sufficiently dilated to allow the passage of enough air.
– Smoking: Smoking tobacco causes throat irritation and reduces lung capacity which results in a decreased ability to inhale air.
– Ingestion of tranquilizers: Tranquilizers can relax neck muscles too much, favoring the emergence of sleep apnea.
– Genetic predisposition: People having relatives who suffer from this disorder are from more likely to suffer them, too.
– Race: Afro-american people, Pacific Islanders and Mexicans show higher rates of apnea.
Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
If you happen to have some symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, you should visit the doctor who will give you a proper diagnosis. This diagnosis is usually based on a physical examination and, if necessary, with a series of tests while you are sleeping (Sleep test = Polysomnography)
Quite often, weight reduction or cessation of alcohol and tranquilizers solves the problem in mild cases.
Other times, you may need surgery to clear the impediments that hinder the entry of air through the throat (removal of the adenoids, tonsils, excess tissue in the throat, etc.).
Sometimes it will be necessary to use favoring mechanical respiration: masks, intraoral devices, CPAP (Continuous Positive Pressure Air-way) which is a type of mask that delivers air through the nose during the night so that the tissue on the back of the throat does not close.) etc.
The natural treatment of obstructive apnea involves using a series of natural remedies that can help prevent or improve it.
More information about the different types of apnea and their natural treatment.
28 March, 2019