What is sleep apnea?
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What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that affects an individual’s respiratory system

What is sleep apnea?

An adequate amount of sleep is very important to lead a healthy life but many people face difficulty in achieving a proper sleeping pattern. Even after going to bed on time, eating well, and taking proper hours of sleep, they feel sleepy the whole day long. If you are also facing a similar situation, it might be directing you towards the sleeping condition known as sleep apnea. Today on the occasion of  World Sleep Day, it is important to target the health condition hampering our sleep and resulting in various problems. One of them is sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that affects an individual’s respiratory system. Sleep apnea occurs in 10% of women worldwide and 25% of men. It can also affect people of all ages, even babies and elderly people. People with overweight large necks and structural abnormalities which reduce the diameter of the upper airway, such as nasal obstruction, enlarged tonsils or a small jaw with an overbite are prone to sleep apnea.
People with sleep apnea experience repeatedly stopping and starting their breath. They also snore loudly and feel tired even after proper sleeping hours. According to Cleveland Clinic, this disorder can also lead to heart problems and high blood pressure. Experts explain sleep  disorder is categorised into three different types as shared below:

Obstructive sleep apnea: this type of apnea is a more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
Central sleep apnea: when your brain is not able to send the proper signals to the muscles controlling breathing. It causes central sleep apnea.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome: this condition is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. It appears when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea indicated various types of symptoms. Signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea can overlap. Due to this, it becomes difficult to identify the exact type one may be suffering with. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central  sleep apneas include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Another person may notice you stop breathing while sleeping and gasping for air during sleep.
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Difficulty in focusing while working.
  • Awakening with a dry mouth.
  • Morning headache.
  • Irritability.
  • Night sweating
  • Feel choked after waking up.
  • Mood disturbance
  • Frequent nighttime urination

Symptoms in children may differ as compared to adults. Some of them are shared below.

  • Poor performance at school.
  • Feeling sleepy in class and mostly confused it with laziness.
  • Difficulty in swallowing and daytime mouth breathing.
  • Inward movement of the rib cage when inhaling.
  • Unusual sleeping positions, such as sleeping on the hands and knees,  or with the neck hyper-extended.
  • Excessive sweating at night.
  • Learning and behavioural disorders such as hyperactivity, attention deficits.
  •  Bedwetting

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is a blockage in the airways and the soft tissue in the rear of the throat area collapses during  sleep. Patients suffering from central nervous system dysfunction,  such as following a stroke or in patients with neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. are prone to obstructive sleep apnea. It is also common in patients with heart failure and other  forms of heart, kidney or lung disease.

If you show the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Your doctor may  ask you to get a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order  an overnight sleep study to objectively evaluate for sleep apnea.

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea focuses on normalising breathing during sleep and addressing the root cause or underlying health  issues. First of all, medical professionals suggest lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, developing healthy sleeping habits, managing weight, limited alcohol consumption, and following a heart-healthy diet. Other ways are mentioned below:
Medicines, like acetazolamide, zolpidem, triazolam are prescribed. One should not intake these drugs without the proper consultation of a  sleep expert. However, these may show up with side effects and it is  not suitable for everyone.
Other options, professionals may advise are surgery, continuous positive airway pressure therapy( CPAP), using an oral appliance (MRD)  a Mandibular repositioning device.