Important factors to know about Sleep Apnea
There is a common saying that we live and die every day, technically. Our respiratory system plays a role in this. While this sounds fun and philosophical, in reality if you are stop breathing for a long time and are actually unaware of it then it leads to serious consequences. Breathing difficulty is not uncommon and snoring is a sign of breathing difficulty during sleep but there are times when a person stops breathing for a longer time in their sleep. This condition is sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
The term apnea comes from Greek meaning without breath and suits the condition as the person with this condition literally sleeps with bouts of no breath for a long time and they are unaware of this for a longer time unless they are observed by someone and notified immediately. When the breathing stops, the oxygen supply too stops which causes organs and body activities like cellular repair and metabolism too be affected with the lack of oxygen. There are two primary types of sleep apnea:
- OSA or obstructive sleep apnea is caused when there is a blockage in the airway. This occurs when the soft tissue, palate, relaxes and blocks the passage along with tonsils narrowing the path and causes the oxygen intake to halt.
- Central sleep apnea is not as common as OSA but it affects the respiratory system just the same, if not more acutely, for here the brain fails in signaling the respiratory muscles to function properly for a time.
How dangerous is sleep apnea?
While the immediate effect might not be noticeable but the long term effect are fatal, life-threatening even. With the brain deprived of oxygen at breaks, the mid is not well – rested and this causes various problems and leads to depression. Incomplete rest leads to heart problems, headaches, diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure, attention loss, fatigue and falling asleep at odd hours to make up for the lack of rest. The chances of a person suffering from sleep apnea falling asleep while driving is high and dangerous.
Determining if you are at a high risk requires you to follow sleep study which means that when a person suffers from sleep apnea then their pauses in breath is recorded whilst they are sleeping and if the count is somewhere between 15 to 30 pauses per hour then the person is at a severe risk of greater damage to their constitution. But to be sure if you are suffering from sleep apnea you can check out for these following symptoms:
- Moring headache
- Waking up breathless in the middle of the night
- Experiencing dry mouth when waking up
- Fatigue and weakness even though you slept throughout the night
- Hypersomnia or insomnia
How to treat sleep apnea?
The primary cause of sleep apnea is blockage of the airway if you are suffering from OSA. Obesity, tonsils, genetics, heredity and even age plays the main reason and while obesity can be dealt with, the other risk factors are not that easy to handle. But while therapies or even surgeries can deal with obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea requires a different approach. Physical therapy is a proven method to help treat sleep apnea. Having a physiotherapist at home when the condition is diagnosed will help them understand the situation better.