Living With Sleep Apnea

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What is sleep apnea?
The national institute of health defines Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) as a disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.
Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep.
As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Overview
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, no blood test can help diagnose the condition.
Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member or bed partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. This causes shallow breathing or breathing pauses.
When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. For example, small children who have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats may have obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea. This disorder occurs if the area of your brain that controls your breathing doesn’t send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. As a result, you’ll make no effort to breathe for brief periods.
Central sleep apnea can affect anyone. However, it’s more common in people who have certain medical conditions or use certain medicines.
Central sleep apnea can occur with obstructive sleep apnea or alone. Snoring typically doesn’t happen with central sleep apnea.
This article mainly focuses on obstructive sleep apnea.
Outlook
Untreated sleep apnea can:
• Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, anddiabetes
• Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
• Make arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), or irregular heartbeats, more likely
• Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?
When you’re awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. When you sleep, these muscles relax, which narrows your throat.
Normally, this narrowing doesn’t prevent air from flowing into and out of your lungs. But if you have sleep apnea, your airway can become partially or fully blocked because:
• Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
• Your tongue and tonsils (tissue masses in the back of your mouth) are large compared with the opening into your windpipe.
• You’re overweight. The extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe. This narrows the inside of the windpipe, which makes it harder to keep open.
• The shape of your head and neck (bony structure) may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
• The aging process limits your brain signals’ ability to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep. Thus, your airway is more likely to narrow or collapse.
Not enough air flows into your lungs if your airway is partially or fully blocked during sleep. As a result, loud snoring and a drop in your blood oxygen level can occur.
If the oxygen drops to a dangerous level, it triggers your brain to disturb your sleep. This helps tighten the upper airway muscles and open your windpipe. Normal breathing then starts again, often with a loud snort or choking sound.
Frequent drops in your blood oxygen level and reduced sleep quality can trigger the release of stress hormones. These hormones raise your heart rate and increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmias(irregular heartbeats). The hormones also can raise your risk for, or worsen, heart failure.
Untreated sleep apnea also can lead to changes in how your body uses energy. These changes increase your risk for obesity and diabetes .

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The Scary Facts About Sleep Apnea Complications

Sleep apnea appears like a simple sleep disorder with loud snoring as its common symptom. How can specialists say it is a dangerous condition? The truth is it is not only a dangerous sleeping disorder, but it is also a fatal one. Sleep apnea complications cover the minor effects from fatigue to daytime sleepiness, from stroke to heart failure. It these are not frightening enough, sleep apnea can ultimately lead to sudden death.

Daytime Fatigue and Sleepiness

Tip: If you are experiencing sleep apnea, stop smoking. Smoking causes swelling in your upper airway, which negatively impacts sleep apnea.

One of the most obvious sleep apnea complications is the feeling of fatigue and sleepiness on waking hours during the day. The frequent sleep disturbances experienced during sleep apnea bouts greatly reduce the quality and number of sleeping hours. The lack of sleep results to the demand of the body for sleep. At times, the afflicted person involuntarily falls asleep in the middle of performing a daytime task like working in front of the computer, or even while driving. The lack of sleep affects mental alertness. The risk is higher for factory and construction workers engaged in complicated machine operation or detailed works.

Sleep Apnea Complications on Heart and Blood Circulation

Tip: Those who suffer from sleep apnea ought to stay away from sleeping pulls. You will exacerbate your sleep apnea symptoms by doing this.

• Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Attack – The relationship between sleep apnea and heart disease is even stronger. Persons with obstructive sleep apnea are more prone to suffer from a heart attack due the weakening of the heart when it is made to pump harder during apnea episodes.

• High Blood Pressure – People who have sleep apnea have higher risk of acquiring high blood pressure even if they are not obese. Snoring, frequent sleep disturbances and mild sleep apnea are factors commonly associated with hypertension.

• Stroke – The association between sleep apnea and death is also higher for those who had previously suffered from a stroke.

• Heart Failure – Most often, patients with heart ailments are also experiencing sleep apnea. The two types of sleep apnea are both linked with heart failure. The absence of oxygen during apnea bouts can worsen the heart ailment condition and increase the chances of death.

• Atrial Fibrillation – Sleep apnea is a common companion for people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat.

Pediatric Complications

Tip: Do not sleep on your back if sleep apnea afflicts you. Your apnea will worsen if you sleep on your back because your airways are more likely to collapse in that position.

• Abnormal Growth – Infants and children with sleep apnea, but remained untreated, are least likely to gain weight or grow according to their age. The lack of quality sleep hampers the production of their growth hormones. This may also possibly affect their heart and central nervous system.

• Hyperactivity and Attention Deficiency – Children with sleep disorder often display these sleep apnea complications.

Psychological Complications

People with sleep apnea are more prone to depression that may worsen as the sleeping disorder intensifies. This may lead to other psychological problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the occurrence of nightmares.

Human Relationship Complications

Sleep apnea is often accompanied by loud snoring, which can create disturbance and irritate the patient’s roommate or bed partner. The sleeping disorder does not only affect the person with sleep apnea alone, but his spouse or partner who may become susceptible to daytime fatigue, irritability, depression and lack of sleep. In some cases, sleep apnea can sever a relationship because of the disturbing noises from snoring.

An untreated case of sleep apnea can be lethal. People who have it have higher risk of dying than those who are not suffering from this sleeping disorder. There are several ways to treat the condition, but there is a need to see a specialist first for a proper diagnosis and prognosis of treatment. Sleep apnea complications are indeed scary and they can affect not only the patient, but also the people around him, especially while he sleeps. It can affect people of all ages, gender, or status. If the snoring gets louder and followed by brief silence, it is time to see a doctor when you wake up.

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What Parents Need To Know About Sleep Apnea In Children

Sleep apnea in children is oftentimes an ignored condition unless the symptoms are so severe to cause worry for parents or guardians. There are two main types of pediatric sleep apnea namely: obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is more prevalent among toddlers and young kids of preschool age. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is usually observed in newly born babies and those below nine months old. Most babies outgrow the sleeping disorder as they mature and as their body systems develop.

Does your child have sleep apnea?

Central sleep apnea in children is characterized by irregular breathing spells. Although irregular breathing normally happens during sleep, it is entirely another matter when the baby stops breathing and turns blue or gray because of the low level of oxygen in the blood. When breathing stops for about eight seconds, parents need to have their babies assessed by a pediatrician immediately.

Tip: Try nasal spray if you notice your nose is irritating you. It may offer a couple nights of relief.

The same symptoms are present in children with obstructive sleep apnea. The irregular breathing, punctuated with non-breathing periods, is usually accompanied by loud snoring. While snoring is common among people, it is also an indication of sleep apnea caused by the obstructed airway due to the collapsed muscle around the throat and neck. It can also be a result of inflamed tonsils, infected upper respiratory tract, and onset of allergic reactions.

The Common Causes of Pediatric Sleep Apnea

Tip: Pick up any type of wind instrument and learn to play it. Practicing any wind instrument will greatly help your sleep apnea.

Many possible causes can trigger sleep apnea in children. It is easier to understand why it occurs in premature babies and infants. Their underdeveloped respiratory system makes it difficult for the babies to breathe normally and get enough oxygen into their bodies. In the case of older babies and very young children, the causes are more complex. The sleep disorder may be brought about by physical deformities such as cleft palate and facial defects. Sleep apnea may also be caused by certain illnesses like Down’s syndrome, allergies and obesity.

Effects of Childhood Sleep Apnea

Tip: If you suffer from sleep apnea and are planning a trip, it is important to plan on taking your CPAP machine with you. You ought not to go a single night without the CPAP if you have sleep apnea.

Parents may be troubled by the more obvious symptoms of sleep apnea in the kids. The irregular breathing and non-breathing interludes are enough cause to make them worry. However, there are more to these that meet the eyes. Foremost is sleep deprivation caused by the frequent sleep disturbance during bouts with apnea. The lack or absence of quality and complete sleeping hours can lead to health and behavioral problems.

• Abnormal Growth – sleep deprivation retards the normal growth and development of a child. It is during sleep that hormones are released. In the absence of sleep, the hormone action is not completed.

• Accompanying Sleep Disorders – Children who are deprived of a good sleep usually display other symptoms such as nightmares, sleep talking, and fear of sleeping.

• Behavioral Problems – Just like adults, the lack of sleep can lead to irritability, mood swings and tantrums. In most cases, sleep apnea in children result to hyperactivity, daytime fatigue and sleepiness, poor memory, aggressive actions, depression and more.

Tip: Most of the time sleep apnea causes anxiety, and if this is bothering you, then consider a nice warm bath before going to bed each night. Taking a hot bath can relieve the tension in your muscles.

• Heart Problems – The lack or absence of air during sleep apnea makes the heart pumps harder to get more oxygen. The heart gets overworked and becomes weaker leading to other complicated health problems such as heart arrhythmia and hypertension that may eventually cause unexpected death.

Seeking Treatment for Sleep Apnea in Your Child

Tip: Daytime napping can help combat against sleep apnea. Not getting enough sleep can lead to health problems as well as lost productivity and poor concentration.

There are various ways to treat sleep apnea. However, there is the need first to bring the child to the family pediatrician to examine and evaluate your child. Initially, the doctor may look at the symptoms as related to the ears, nose, and throat. In most instances, there is the need for the child to undergo surgery for the removal of enlarged tonsils, which are blocking the airway and making it difficult for the child to breathe during sleep.

There are also non-invasive treatments appropriate for babies and children with sleep apnea. The doctor may also prescribed antihistamines if the condition is triggered by allergic reactions. For more severe cases, there are machines or gadgets to be used to continuously supply oxygen to your child during sleep.

Parents cannot sleep well when they see that their child is not getting enough sleep due to something that is eating away his health. Do not just watch your kid as he tossed and turned in his sleep because that may be an indication that he is suffering from sleep apnea in children. Early diagnosis is always better than late antidote.

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Finding Who And When To See Doctors For Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder characterized by irregular breathing pattern that can last from a few seconds to minutes. The episodes may be as frequent to occur a hundred times while the person sleeps. It is usually accompanied by loud snoring followed by breathing pauses then snorting or gasping for air when the person briefly awakens. While it appears relatively harmless, the disorder is not just a simple sleep disturbance but a dangerous and even a fatal condition if it remains untreated by doctors for sleep apnea.

When is the time to see the doctors for sleep apnea?

The need to see a doctor is more felt if any of the following situations prevail:

• You or your spouse often snores loudly and intermittently during sleep. Headache, daytime fatigue, and sleepiness are usually experienced when waking up in the morning.

• Your or your spouse’s snoring occurs in crescendo followed by breathing pause then brief choking or gasping sounds.

• You involuntarily fall asleep in the middle of performing daytime tasks such as eating, talking or even while driving.

• Your child snores while sleeping, has breathing problems, feels restless, wakes up frequently and sleepy during the day.

These common symptoms are enough to warn you that you or your spouse or child may be suffering from sleep apnea. Regardless of its type, the condition needs exhaustive diagnosis and long-term treatment to prevent the onset of more serious complications such as heart disease, hypertension, and sudden death.

Tip: Weight loss can have a major impact on those with sleep apnea. Being overweight and large around the neck are often indications of sleep apnea.

Doctors for sleep apnea may require you to undergo some tests to rule out other ailments that may have the same symptoms. Upon confirmation, the certified sleep doctor may recommend the best treatment option for you.

Who to see for sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment?

Tip: In an effort to better diagnose your apnea problem, your physician might want you to maintain a sleep log. You will record when you sleep and when you awaken and anything else that happens during your sleeping hours.

You can see a phalanx of health professionals to check on your condition. You need to consult first with your family doctor since he has the record of your health history. If he has no specialization in the field of sleep apnea, he is in a better position to decide and recommend the most certified and reputable doctor to treat your sleep apnea. Other professionals in the medical field that you can see include internists, pediatrician for your child, nurse practitioner and sleep disorder specialists.

A sleep apnea specialist initially performs a sleep study or sleep test that can be done at your home or in the clinic. The results are indicative of the severity of the condition based on the symptom parameters such as oxygen levels in the blood and the intensity of fatigue or daytime sleepiness. With these indicators, the doctors for sleep apnea may be able to prescribe the proper treatment for your condition. Oftentimes, a single specialist is enough to manage the ailment. There are cases, though, that requires multi-disciplinary interventions by different specialist.

If you are afflicted with other ailments that may possibly aggravate due to sleep apnea, you may need to see the following health professionals:

• Cardiologist: for your heart problems
• Pulmonologist: for lung ailments
• Otolaryngologist or ENT doctor: one who can perform surgery to correct deformities or defects in the ear, nose, and throat areas.
• Orthodontist: to design or fabricate an oral breathing device

Tip: People that have sleep apnea can benefit from learning to play a wind instrument. This is good for your soul, and playing a wood instrument will reduce sleep apnea issues.

Sleep apnea is a complex sleep disorder that is not limited to the respiratory system alone. This interrelated condition involves other body organs; thus, the intervention of multiple specialists is often necessary.

If sleep apnea is mild, your family physician may be enough to handle and provide treatment for your snoring. He may recommend simple methods such as weight loss, change in sleeping position, and a change in your lifestyle. However, if your condition is diagnosed as severe, you need to immediately seek the help of doctors for sleep apnea who may prescribe the use of some gadgets or machines and may even suggest surgery to correct some physical deformations in the throat area.

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People who suffer from sleep apnea know that this is a sleeping disorder that affects their breathing patterns while sleeping. Their sleep pattern can be interrupted for certain periods of time throughout the night. Each episode of sleep apnea usually lasts long enough to miss at least one breath and these incidents will occur throughout the entire time the sufferer is asleep.

If you know someone suffering with sleep apnea or if you suffer from this disorder, then you’ll already understand that it can be a frightening condition. Often times a person may not even know that they have sleep apnea. Without proper testing, this condition can go undiagnosed. These people may experience excessive fatigue because they are not getting enough sleep throughout the night. They may be irritable and moody as well. Several sleep apnea treatments are available. My goal with this web site is to provide useful information to those people that suffer.

One of the most effective treatments for patients that suffer from sleep apnea is called CPAP(pronounced see-pap). This stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It works by providing a continuous stream of air into the throat of the patient. This helps to reinforce the airway tract to keep it open during the respiratory cycle. It helps during the inhalation phase of breathing. Another device may be used to treat more severe cases of sleep apnea. It is called BiPAP(pronounced by-pap). This device helps with inhalation and exhalation phases of the respiratory cycle.

In addition to the relatively well known CPAP and BiPAP machines there’s another sleep apnea treatment from a dentist specializing in sleep disorders. This device is called Oral Appliance Therapy, also known as OAT. This is a device fitted by a Dentist that is designed to re-position the tongue so that it does not block the airway during sleep. Consult with a Physician/Dentist to see if this type of therapy might be an option. This system is often quite effective, especially in sufferers who have only mild or moderate symptoms of apnea. This is quite a new treatment that’s becoming very popular with sleep apnea sufferers in the United States, but has been widely used in Europe for a few years.

There’s one treatment that you can do for yourself if you’re suffering from sleep apnea and that is to lose weight. If you’re over weight then this may well be affecting your symptoms – sometimes even becoming the main cause of sleep disturbances. By losing weight, if you need to, keeping up an active social life and following a regular exercise routine, you can help to treat your own sleep apnea, the natural way, without needing to use anything other than your own willpower. If you’re overweight, then losing excess weight won’t only help manage the symptoms of sleep apnea, but it’ll also make you feel a lot healthier in other ways too.

For proven tips on how to cure sleep apnea that’ll allow you to throw out your CPAP for good check out this web page!

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