Sleep Apnea is a disorder where you are unable to breathe for periods of time while you are sleeping. This particular disorder can be deadly if you don’t pay attention to the warning signs. You might have to enlist the help of someone to stay awake and watch you sleep (short of going to a sleep specialist) to let you know your breathing patterns.
With sleep apnea, you actually stop breathing. There are two types of sleep apnea and they are categorized as obstructive and central sleep apnea. Here is a brief description of each:
Obstructive sleep apnea
Prevents proper oxygen circulation and has an adverse effect on a person’s heart. Sometimes you will hear the terms “congenital or congestive heart failure” associated with this time of sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea
Is defined as being when your breathing is regularly disrupted when you are sleeping because of the way your brain functions. With this apnea, it isn’t that you can’t breathe, it is your brain telling your muscles not to breathe at all. Also, this type of apnea is associated with illnesses associated with the lower brain stem.
The group of people most likely to contract obstructive sleep apnea are those who are morbidly obese. These people usually have to wear an oxygen mask to bed because they sometimes can’t breathe which is caused by the pressure of their weight on their lungs.
Congenital Down’s Syndrome is another condition in which those people also have a greater risk of contracting sleep apnea. The reason for this is their enlarged heads, adenoids, tonsils, tongue and adenoids. They also usually have a narrow Nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat behind the nose).
Some common symptoms of sleep apnea you should know are: headaches, depression, frequent urination, irritability, lowered libido and profuse sweating at night.
When you visit a doctor, if you think you might have sleep apnea, they will look at your medical history and the causes of your breathing problem. They will then do an evaluation and come up with a treatment plan. Most likely they will ask you to make changes to your lifestyle and stay away from alcohol.
Lifestyle changes include losing weight, giving up smoking, and elevating themselves while sleeping so that they are lying in a “propped up” position with pillows. This will allow for easier breathing while trying to sleep.
A morbidly obese person will improve their life immensely if they just lose 50 pounds. They might have to stick to a strict diet and have a support team but it must be done to save their life.
One surgical method is a gastric bypass. There is also a lap band. This will help obese people to maintain their weight loss and help to immensely improve their breathing problem and allow them to get a good night’s rest and sleep.
Without sleep, you run the risk of serious problems so don’t let sleep apnea interrupt your rest time.
We have another post with more information about sleeping disorder symptoms you may also want to read. Simply click on the link.