Sleep Apnea - Health Tips

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.

Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow.
This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Overview :



Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can't detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, there are no blood tests for the condition.

Most people who have sleep apnea don't know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member and/or bed partner may first notice the signs of sleep apnea.



The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses.



When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. For example, small children may have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats, which can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.


Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea. This disorder happens if the area of your brain that controls your breathing doesn't send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. As a result, you'll make no effort to breathe for brief periods.

Central sleep apnea can occur in anyone. However, it's more common in people who have certain medical conditions or use certain medicines.

Central sleep apnea often occurs with obstructive sleep apnea, but it can occur alone. Snoring doesn't typically happen with central sleep apnea.

This article mainly focuses on obstructive sleep apnea.

Outlook

Untreated sleep apnea can:

• Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
• Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
• Make arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), or irregular heartbeats, more likely
• Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and/or breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.
 
Other Names for Sleep Apnea



• Cheyne-Stokes breathing
• Sleep-disordered breathing

What Causes Sleep Apnea?



When you're awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. When you sleep, these muscles are more relaxed. Normally, the relaxed throat muscles don't prevent your airway from staying open to allow air into your lungs.



But if you have obstructive sleep apnea, your airway can be blocked or narrowed during sleep because:



• Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
• Your tongue and tonsils (tissue masses in the back of your mouth) are large compared
   to the opening into  your windpipe.
• You're overweight. The extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe. This causes    
   the   inside opening to narrow, which makes it harder to keep open.
• The shape of your head and neck (bony structure) may cause a smaller airway size in
   the  mouth and throat area.
• The aging process limits your brain signals' ability to keep your throat muscles stiff
   during  sleep. This makes it more likely that the airway will narrow or collapse.



Not enough air flows into your lungs if your airway is fully or partly blocked during sleep. This can cause loud snoring and a drop in your blood oxygen level.



If the oxygen drops to a dangerous level, it triggers your brain to disturb your sleep. This helps tighten the upper airway muscles and open your windpipe. Normal breaths then start again, often with a loud snort or choking sound.



The frequent drops in oxygen level and reduced sleep quality trigger the release of stress hormones. These compounds raise your heart rate and increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). The hormones also raise the risk of, or worsen, heart failure.



Untreated sleep apnea also can lead to changes in how your body uses energy. These changes increase your risk of obesity and diabetes.


Earlier Posts :

 
Sleep Apnea Reviewed by B Thirunavukkarasu on Sunday, August 07, 2011 Rating: 5

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