Sleep Apnea: A Silent But Dangerous Disorder

DO you snore loudly, feel tired even after having a full night sleep? It could be big trouble dealing with what is medical referred to as Sleep Apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated breathing stops and starts.

Generally, apnea involves gasping for air while sleeping which often results in morning headache, irritability, difficulty paying attention and dry mouth when awake. It could also result in insomnia or hypersomnia.

Although loud snoring can be an indicator of serious sleep apnea, it is however, not in all cases that people with sleep apnea snore.

Sleep apnea comes with several signs and symptoms. However, they often overlap, thus sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include obstructive, central and complex sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is said to be the commonest form of sleep disorder. It is the case when muscles in the back of your throat which support the soft palate, the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue, etc, relax and narrow the airway narrows or closes same as one breathes in. The result is that one is unable to get enough air, leading to lower oxygen level in your blood.

Subsequently, one’s brain senses an inability to breathe and briefly causes one to wake up from sleep just so that one can reopen one’s airway usually so briefly that one hardly notices it.

In particular, the recalibration process can result sleep apnea can result in snort, choke or gasp and can repeat itself for upward og 5 to 30 times or more over an each hour, all night. Essentially, it impairs one’s ability to achieve deep, restful phases of sleep.

Put differently, sleep apnea involves a repeated stop and start breathing pattern which occurs when throat muscles relax intermittently and ends up blocking the airway. Snoring is its most noticeable sign.

Significantly, it affects over 1.5 million Nigerians annually and can last for a lifetime. However, it is treatable when properly diagnosed by medical professionals.

Central sleep apnea on the other hand occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing for whatever reason. It is rather a rare and barely understood sleep disorder that can last for upwards of 10 seconds or more. There is a course for concern if cessation goes beyond a few per night.

Like obstructive apnea, central sleep apnea can be treated. However, it involves a regimen of steps which includes healthy weight, regular exercises, altered sleep position, use of humidifier, oral appliances and total abstinence from tobacco and alcohol.

Complex apnea, often referred to as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, is a combination of both obstructive and central apneas. It occurs when someone with previous case of obstructive sleep apnea develops central sleep apnea due to treatment with continuous positive airway pressure.

Experts are of the strong opinion that there is a serious need to consult a doctor if one notices signs of sleep apnea. It might help prevent heart problems and other related complications.

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