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Sleeping With Sleep Apnea

Uneven sleep is considerably more than a nuisance.  It disrupts daytime hours, leaves us feeling cranky, and sometimes results in blunders we might otherwise not make.


However, did you know that jagged sleep could even put us at a higher risk for some pretty serious medical conditions and even death?


One culprit known to disrupt slumber is sleep apnea.  The word apnea is a Greek word that means without breath/want of breath.  Apnea occurs when breathing has been interrupted.  Some people believe that only overweight or elderly individuals suffer with the problem, but that is not entirely accurate.  While it is true that excess weight and advanced age can be contributing factors in some individuals, even thin people and children experience the condition.


One obvious symptom of sleep apnea is snoring.  Nonetheless, it’s important to mention that not all snorers have sleep apnea.


Naturally, some people do not realize they snore because they are asleep when they do so.  Oftentimes, other individuals in the home alert them to the issue.  It is vital to have your doctor closely monitor the situation when loud snoring or other alarming nocturnal symptoms surface.  He or she will likely recommend a sleep study.


Let’s look at the two main types of sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  OSA is often characterized by paused/shallow breathing, loud snoring, gasping for breath, and/or restlessness.  This happens because an airway obstruction is taking place.  Aging, obesity, and head, neck or mouth shape can cause or worsen OSA, but even large tonsils in children can be responsible for the condition.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA).  CSA is not as common as OSA.  This type generally occurs because the part of the brain that controls breathing sends faulty signals to the breathing muscles.  Subsequently, an inability to properly take in air occurs and breathing stops and starts.  And the cause of CSA?  It may be secondary to another medical conditions or spurred on by medication.  Loud snoring is less likely to be a symptom.


Infrequently, individuals receiving treatment for obstructive sleep disorder (OSA) develop central sleep disorder (CSA), as well.  When this happens, the condition is known as mixed or complex sleep apnea.  The mixed type exhibits symptoms of both OSA and CSA.


How do you treat sleep apnea?


Sleep apnea management is typically customized to the respective form and could include a nighttime mouth device that pushes the jaw forward, nasal strips, diet modification, a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), or other appliances/lifestyle changes.  Because the condition tends to be chronic, it is important to stick with treatment to realize a higher degree of success.


Sound sleep is much more important than many of us know.  For additional information on this topic, go to http://www.sleepapnea.org/

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