What is Sleep Apnea? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition in which the patient has episodes of interrupted or shallow breathing along with normal breathing during sleep. Such interrupted breathing lasts for 5 to 10 seconds and occurs several times during the night.

The person sleeps less deeply and more lightly. Often this leads to disturbance of sleep as the person suddenly wakes up almost as if choked, from sleep as breathing pauses.

Such a person may also exhibit offensively loud snoring. Because the sleep gets disturbed during such an episode, individuals suffering from it usually don’t wake up refreshed. Thus sleep apnea, other than being dangerous, also impairs sleep and impacts day to day activities.

What is Sleep Apnoea

Typical Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:

  • Loud, offensive snoring
  • Interrupted breathing
  • Getting choked during sleep
  • Feeling of tiredness and sleepiness during the day time
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Insomnia

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea:

Instead of assuming yourself, it is recommended to consult a sleep specialist – who may advise observation at home with the help of a portable monitor or alternatively suggest clinic, so as to make clinical observations. Anyone can suffer from sleep apnoea: child, female, male. However, males are more prone.

Causes and Risk Factors:

Overweight and Obesity: Being on the fatter side tends to increase the subcutaneous fat around the neck. A thickset neck can impede normal respiration and trigger this disorder.

• Age above 65.

• Chronic smoking

• Certain body characteristics such as having a thickset neck, deviated nasal septum or enlarged tonsils.

• Allergies or other medical conditions that tend to block nose.

• Certain serious medical disorders such as heart, brain or spinal problems.

Treatment:

• Weight reduction. In those who are overweight or obese, a weigh loss of even 5 kg has been shown to help in a big way. This helps in opening up the throat muscles.

• Give up smoking.

• Avoid alcohol.

• Try to sleep naturally instead of depending on sleep aiding medications.

• Don’t eat and sleep immediately. Maintain a gap of at least 2 hours between the meal and sleep.

• Avoid sleeping on your back. Instead, sleep on your side.

• Do throat exercises to enable even breathing.

• Consult a specialist before embarking upon any treatment and also to explore newer options and breathing devices as well as medications.

SOURCE: B-Positive Health Magazine

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