Sleep apnea is common, dangerous and often unnoticed

Sleep apnea is common, dangerous and often unnoticed

The basics you need to know about sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea Review: This belongs to the category of health affections that are undiagnosed for the large majority of the cases, making sleep apnea that much more dangerous. This is because, without a diagnostic, you cannot take measures to overcome the affection and the situation can go downhill pretty fast. The real problem is that it is a bit difficult to notice because the symptoms occur while the patient is asleep.

In most of the cases, it is the bed partner who can signal the symptoms, but that is not always the case. Although it can occur in anyone, sleep apnea is a lot more common among the obese population and people who are having a problem with their weight and the mechanism by which it function explains why that is the case.

When sleeping on the back, especially in the case of overweight individuals, the airways tend to be pressured under the gravitation and the effect is greater when they are packed with body fat. As a result, they will close, causing suffocation and disturbing the sleeping pattern. That is when snoring occurs, causing the patient to wake up pretty often during the night, without even realizing it.

In addition to snoring, the choking sensation is another symptom, occurring when sleep apnea is so severe that the airways block completely, causing breathing pauses. The danger is that, when repeated long enough, they could affect the brain, due to the regular lack of oxygen. The sleep apnea defined by the blockage of the airways is called obstructive.

But there is another type, called central sleep apnea, not that common as the first type, which occurs when the brain fails to stimulate the breathing muscles properly, resulting, again, in sleeping pauses. Unlike the obstructive type, in this case, we do not have the snoring as a side effect.

Is it something we need to worry about?

Even though it could seem like a harmless affection, sleep apnea can actually be very dangerous to one’s health. When left untreated for longer periods of time, it can cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack and heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Daily fatigue due to insufficient rest
  • Lack of energy, inability to focus and low attention span
  • Chronic fatigue and muscular weakness

According to several studies, people who are living with this health affection are more likely to suffer a sudden death than the rest of the population. This goes to show it is not something to be messed with and that you need to take measures as soon as the first symptoms occur.

Sleep Apnea Treatment and prevention

The first line of defense against sleep apnea resides in resorting to lifestyle changes. Losing weight is probably the most important of all because it will minimize the impact of the fat on the airways. The second most important thing is to give up smoking, which can cloth the air-ducts with toxic substances and cease alcohol consumption.

When drinking alcohol, the tissue relaxes, causing the airways to collapse and lock. But in the case that the affection is more severe, the most effective treatment method remains the CPAP device. It consists of a mask that is designed to be placed on the face at night. It stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure because this is exactly what it does. It covers the nose and mouth and keeps the airway open, by blowing a gentle stream of air into the ducts.

Aside from CPAP, sleep apnea can be treated using dental appliances, which are designed to reposition the jaw forward, so that the airways remain open at all times, by removing the pressure of the muscles. As a last resort, the patient can go through surgical interventions, meant either to remove redundant tissue from the airways or to implant a chest stimulator, whose role is to activate the hypoglossal nerve controlling the tongue and ordering it to clear the airways during sleep.

But the most important thing in identifying and treating sleep apnea is to resource to medical assistance as soon as the first symptoms have become visible. The faster you take measures, the easier will be to treat the affection.