About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes the patient to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night. Breathing can stop for up to minutes at a time, causing a strain on the heart and can even lead to more serious implications such as stroke and heart disease. If CPAP therapy is not effective, more invasive procedures may take place.

Oftentimes, snoring is one of the main warning indicators of sleep apnea.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive. This occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway inducing snoring or a choking sound. Another type of sleep apnea is central, a rare disorder. This occurs from the brain’s inability to control breathing while asleep.

Sleep apnea has many reoccurring symptoms such as drowsiness, irritability, loss of awareness and concentration, and a higher possibility of mental illness. Some people are more susceptible to sleep apnea than others. Men who are older and overweight are more likely to experience sleep apnea, as well as those with smaller airways, enlarged tonsils, or have a family history of the disorder.

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or other serious health problems. It is important to make an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing the above symptoms.

The most common method of treatment is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). A CPAP machine includes a mask that fits over your nose and mouth and blows air into a tube to increase airflow while sleeping. Pressure can be adjusted according to the doctor’s recommendations for each patient’s needs.

There are certain lifestyle changes that can reduce sleep apnea and snoring symptoms. For example, avoid sleeping flat on your back. Try falling asleep on your side and elevating your head higher than you normally do. Losing weight can also reduce the symptoms you are experiencing.

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