Sleep Apnea is a type of sleep disorder. It is characterized by unusual pauses or low breathing, when sleeping. It is an ordinary disorder that can become serious if proper attention and care is not given to it.
Types Of Sleep Apnea
There are three basic types of this disorder namely, obstructive, central and mixed or complex types. The most common type is the obstructive one. As the word sounds, it means that one is unable to get in enough air into their lungs because of an obstruction. If enough air is not going into the body, there may be a drop in the amount of oxygen that is making its way into the body. When this happens, breathing is often resumed with a choking or snorting sound. Another one is the central type, this is less serious and has to do with the central nervous system, it happens when the brain fails to notify the muscles in charge of breathing. People with this type of apnea rarely snore. The third and final one is the complex type, this occurs when the obstructive and the central are combined.
It is usually characterized by loud snoring, notwithstanding, not everyone that snores has this disorder and not all that has it snores. Despite the type, people with this problem fail to realize most times that they have it even when woken up! It is often identified by another person observing the sufferer sleep. One of the major sign is how one feels during the day.
This disorder can often go unnoticed for years and even decades. People, who suffer from this, are at high risk of being involved in accidents, an example is car accident because they tend to lose focus and often have vision problems. There are also other effects that this can have on the body like daytime fatigue, decreased motivation and vigilance, stroke, heart failure, heart attacks, depression, drowsiness, aggressiveness and can also affect how people behave at the work place.
A person is at risk of this disorder, if they are overweight, over the age of forty, have nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, have a large tongue, male, over the age of forty, have a medical condition that brings about nasal congestion, having a large neck size, etc. However, there are a few changes in lifestyle that can reduce these risks and improve quality of life and sleep. Weight loss is one change that can improve your health and deal with this sleep disorder. This is because when you lose weight, your throat opens up and more air is able to pass through. Avoid heavy meals and caffeine at least within two hours of going to bed. Avoid sedatives, alcohol and sleeping pills as they make the throat muscles relax thereby interfering with breathing.
Some of these things can also be done before going to bed to prevent and reduce the risk, sleeping on the side, elevating the head with a pillow from the waist up and making the airways open by using saline sprays or breathing strips. It is advised to see a health care practitioner for some medical intervention especially if it is a severe one. The doctor may suggest surgery to remove the excess tissue located at the back of the throat or within the nose, in severe cases.
Although treatable, this disorder can also be cured. A cure is vital, even if not for the person suffering from it, at least for the person sleeping next to the person with this sleep disorder. It can be cured by applying some self-care and in severe cases, seeking medical intervention. The doctor first examines the jaw and facial bones, and then checks the throat and palate, tonsils and uvula to see the level or clarity of the air passage. Tests are usually conducted in sequence for diagnosis, then the patient may be attached to a machine that monitors sleep and heart in other to observe them. The doctor also observes how many times the person wakes up and the irregularity of the heartbeat. These tests are conducted and several more, in other to determine how many times one gets up from slumber and determine the right medication. It is advised to seek medical attention if one is diagnosed with sleep apnea, as there are several discomforts that come with it.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder, but can be managed with the right lifestyle and medication.