Obstructive Sleep Apnea

By | December 18, 2017

“Apnea” in sleep apnea is a Greek term which means “without breath”. Individuals who are afflicted with sleep apnea repeatedly stop breathing during sleep, which occurs often for a minute or more, and many times each sleep time. This disorder can be caused either by complete blockage of the airway or by partial obstruction. Both of these causes may wake up a person who suffers from sleep apnea. The three types of sleep apnea are obstructive, mixed and central, and of these types, the most common is OSA or obstructive sleep apnea.

The location of the obstruction in the airway for most patients is in the soft palate, which extends to the site at the tongue’s base. There are no firm structures like bone or cartilage in this region to hold open the air’s passageway. At daytime, the muscles in this area keep the airway open. But when a person who has obstructive sleep apnea sleeps, these muscles become relaxed until the airway collapses and become blocked.

Breathing stops when this airway is blocked. The person then wakes up abruptly to breathe and open the air passageway. This may only last a few seconds, however, this single waking up actually disrupts continuous sleep. This sleep disturbance may prevent a person from reaching the deeper stages of sleep like REM sleep or rapid eye movement. REM is important because this helps the body replenish its energy and strength. As soon as the one who suffers from obstructive sleep apnea restores his normal breathing, he falls asleep again only to undergo the same process throughout the night.

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The major risk for obstructive sleep apnea is weight gain. Because the fat on the sides of the upper airway is accumulated, the air passageway becomes narrower, which may eventually close when there is muscle relaxation.

Another risk of having obstructive sleep apnea is age. The most common result of aging is loss of muscle mass. If the muscle mass in the air passageway of a person is diminished, it may eventually be replaced with fat. This will then leave the air passageway soft and narrow.

The most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are restless sleep, loud snoring and daytime fatigue or sleepiness. It is very important for one who is diagnosed with OSA to have this disorder treated right away. Some natural forms of treatment like lifestyle change, working out for weight loss and quitting smoking may help a lot.

When a person considers options in treating OSA, he may be tempted to back out. It is therefore important to remember that there are even more serious consequences if obstructive sleep apnea is not cured. People who have obstructive sleep apnea who refuse treatment are only putting themselves to risk. If you are suffering from OSA, consult your doctor about the best way to treat this sleep disorder. Some antidepressants such as Prozac and Protriptyline were used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. However, these medications only have mild effects to cure obstructive sleep apnea. They could improve this disorder by increasing the tone of the upper air passageway and also by reducing REM sleep. These are only mild effects. Besides, antidepressants are not considered as effective cures for obstructive sleep apnea.

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Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor first as to what treatment to consider. Moreover, it is a good practice to have a healthy lifestyle to have better sleep. Not only are you relieving yourself from OSA, you are also helping yourself avoid other possible diseases by becoming healthy.

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