What is Sleep Apnea? Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Treatments.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Does your bed partner snore? Is it so loud that the walls vibrate? Snoring can be a symptom of a deeper, more serious and potentially life threatening disorder called sleep apnea. People with this condition actually stop breathing up to 100 times per hour during the night. These pauses generally last from 10 to 30 seconds per episode and are usually followed by a snort when breathing starts again. This results in an unnatural break in your sleep and will leave you feeling unrested and tired during the day. This type of fatigue has been linked to job related injuries, car accidents, strokes, heart attacks and even death. The most common type of this condition is called obstructive sleep apnea or osa.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

It happens when the tongue, tonsils or other soft tissues in the back of your throat block the airway. When you try to breathe in, the air can’t get through. It is estimated to affect more then one million canadians. It is more common in people over age 40, but can affect all ages. You are more likely to have the condition if you are male, overweight, african american or latino. Osa may affect as many as 1 in 10 children. In most cases it is mild with the child eventually outgrowing it. In some cases it may contribute to behavior problems or other medical issues. Parents need to be aware that osa may be a contributing factor if their child has behavior issues or is struggling in school. It is recommended that parents occasionally monitor breathing in their sleeping children. Osa tends to run in families. Alcohol and sleep aids have been shown worsen sleep apnea.

Improve Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

You can improve the symptoms of sleep apnea when you shed even a small percentage of your body wieight. It also helps to stop smoking. Sleeping on your back is the worst sleep position contributing to sleep apnea. Gravity pulls the tissues in the throat and the tongue back to where they are more likely to block the airway. Sleeping on your side helps keep your throat open. The most common and effective treatment for sleep apnea is a device called a cpap. Cpap stands for continuous positive air pressure.

What is Continuous Positive Air Pressure device?

It involves wearing a small face mask attached to a machine that blows a steady stream of air into your airway. The flow pressure is adjustable so that it is strong enough to maintain an open airway while you sleep. Not everyone is able to wear a cpap and so compliance can be an issue. For those who find it impossible to tolerate a cpap the next best option is a dental mouthpiece. These devices are custom made for each individual and are easier to tolerate than the cpap. They function by holding the lower jaw in a position that helps to keep the airway open during sleep.

Finally, in some people surgery may be the best option to treat osa. An example of this is removal of tonsils blocking a child’s airway. Some adults can benefit from surgery to shrink or remove floppy tissues. When in doubt it is advisable to talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist to determine the best solution for you.

Feb, 19, 2018