A Beginner’s Guide to Sleep Apnea


 

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Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly while they sleep. It can be a very complex condition, so here is everything you need to know about this disorder.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

1. Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common form of the disorder and is caused when a person’s airways are blocked, which happens most commonly in the back of the throat.

2. Central sleep apnea. This happens when a person’s brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.

What are some sleep apnea causes?

1. When your throat and tongue muscles relax more than normal.

2. You are overweight, thus causing extra fat tissue to line and narrow the windpipe.

Who is at risk for sleep apnea?

1. Men are twice as likely than women to develop sleep apnea. But, if a person is overweight their risk factor increases tremendously.

2. Those who have a large neck.

3. Sufferers of GERD, Gastroesophageal reflux.

4. Nasal obstruction.

What are the health effects of sleep apnea?

1. High blood pressure.

2. Stroke.

3. Heart problems including heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart blockages that can result in heart attacks.

4. Fatigue and dizziness from lack of sleep.

5. Diabetes.

6. Depression.

7. Headaches.

8. The worsening of ADD and ADHD.

How can I get tested for sleep apnea?

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult your doctor right away. They may run a variety of tests on you, including a home sleep test that will monitor your breathing patterns while you sleep. If this does not work, they may recommend a nocturnal polysomnography which monitors your heart, lungs, and brain during sleep.

What are the treatments for sleep apnea?

A CPAP machine is the best treatment for this disorder. This is a sleep apnea machine that blows a constant stream of air up your nose in order to prevent your airways from collapsing while sleeping. CPAP machines are small machines that you attach to your body through a nasal pillow and sleep with all night long. Depending on personal preference you may choose a full face CPAP machine, or just a simple tube that lies under your nose. While it may be tough to get used to at first, a CPAP machine will change the way you sleep forever and cause you to wake up with a smile everyday!

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