Sleep Apnea, the not so Silent Killer.
What is Sleep Apnea?
This subject is right up this Doowans alley, so to speak. As I have studied sleep when I practiced medicine. What brought this to my attention. Was last night. I had gone to bed early and my mate had stayed up to watch the boob tube. (T.V.) When she came to bed, I woke up and was listening to her breathing. It wasn’t long before I hear the telltale signs of Sleep Apnea the not so Silent Killer.
It can be tough to identify sleep apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. But you can get around this difficulty by asking a bed partner to observe your sleep habits, or by recording yourself during sleep. Your partner may know, if they knows what signs to listen for. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between garden variety snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea?
The biggest telltale sign is how one feels during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day. Your partner might if one snores loudly. However, if one wakes up exhausted after a normal nights sleep. Sleep Apnea may be the cause. Most of us snore at some point in our lives. In (Sleep Anatomy) I talked about the stages of sleep that we humans experience while we sleep. Yes, Sleep has an Anatomy, meaning we go through different stages or levels of sleep. There are even different types of sleep. This information is in the link above.
Sleep Apnea Definition
All of the muscles in your body become more relaxed during sleep. This includes the muscles that help keep the airway open and allow air to flow into the lungs.
Normally, the upper throat remains open enough during sleep to let air pass by. However, some people have a narrower throat area. When the muscles in their upper throat relax during sleep, their breathing can stop for a period of time (often more than 10 seconds). This is called apnea.
Sleep Apnea (or sleep apnoea), is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from at least ten seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. During my study of sleep. I had my patients hold the breath for as long as they could. while I timed them. During their sleep their apnea episodes would last from 1 to 2 times longer than when they were tested awake! If they could only hold their breath for one minute while awake. Were holding their breath for 2 minutes while asleep. What’s interesting to note is that each time this happens. The person has to wake up to open their airway and start breathing again. This explains why their not rested after their nights sleep. Truth is their not sleeping. Worse is that their not breathing either.
Each abnormally low breathing event is called a hypopnea. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or “sleep study”.
There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea (i.e. a combination of central and obstructive) constituting 0.4%, 84% and 15% of cases respectively. In CSA, breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort that happens from the central nervous system in the ponds and medulla of our brain. In OSA, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort, and snoring is common. In other words, it like somebody putting their hand over ones mouth and nose.
As airflow stops during a sleep apnea episode, the oxygen level in your blood drops. Your brain responds by briefly disturbing your sleep enough to kick-start breathing. Their called (Arousals), which often resumes with a gasp or a choking sound. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you probably won’t remember these awakenings. Most of the time, you’ll stir just enough to tighten your throat muscles and open your windpipe. In central sleep apnea, you may be conscious of your awakenings.
Regardless of type, an individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the person during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body (Sequelae, a morbid condition following or occurring as a consequence of another condition or event.). Symptoms may be present for years (or even decades) without identification, during which time the sufferer may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance. Plus, this creates other disease conditions in the body, like high blood pressure. Sleep Apnea has a big effect on the heart. It’s like running marathon all night long.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the flow of air pauses or decreases during breathing while you are asleep because the airway has become narrowed, blocked, or floppy.
A pause in breathing is called an apnea episode. Almost everyone has brief apnea episodes while they sleep.
What Are the Effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
- Worsening of ADHD
In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic under achievement in children and adolescents.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Being male, women are at risk as well.
- Being overweight
- Being over age 40
- Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
- Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
- Having a family history of sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
- Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
Other factors may also increase your risk:
- A lower jaw that is short compared to the upper jaw (retrognathia)
- Certain shapes of the palate or narrower airway that cause the airway to collapse more easily
- Large tonsils and adenoids in children that can block the airway
- Large tongue, which may fall back and block the airway
How serious is sleep apnea?
It is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. The risks of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea include heart attacks, strokes, impotence, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness that can result in accidents, lost productivity and interpersonal relationship problems. The severity of the symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe.
The treatment probabilities of Obstructive apnea
There’s a broad number of medicines and remedies for all those suffering from Obstructive Anti Snoring (OSA). Because of this you’ll need to really have a correct dialogue with a skilled doctor in sleep medicine. CPAP or Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure may be the typical and many well-known treatment for anti snoring. A gentle but constant flow of oxygen and/or air from the mask moves through the nostril when you’re sleeping. This prevents the nasal pathways completely closing during sleep. Of course, there’s also surgery. Most of these procedures are radical, with no guarantee their work.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is when you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep because the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Central sleep apnea often occurs in people who have certain medical conditions. For example, it can develop in persons who have life-threatening problems with the brain-stem, which controls breathing.
Conditions that can cause or lead to central sleep apnea include:
- Arthritis and degenerative changes in the cervical spine or the base of the skull
- Bulbar poliomyelitis
- Complications of cervical spine surgery
- Encephalitis affecting the brain-stem
- Neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease
- Radiation of the cervical spine
- Stroke affecting the brain-stem
- Primary hypoventilation syndrome
- Use of certain medications such as narcotic-containing painkillers
A form of central sleep apnea commonly occurs in people with congestive heart failure.
If the apnea is not associated with another disease, it is called idiopathic central sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is not the same as obstructive sleep apnea, which is due to a blockage in the airway.
A condition called Cheyne-Stokes respiration can mimic central sleep apnea. This involves breathing to a variable depth, usually while sleeping.
House remedies for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Altering how you sleep may help. Avoid sleeping on your back and attempt to sleep on your stomach or sides. Whenever one sleeps on their back. Remember, the tongue has the tendency to fall to the back of the throat and occluded the airway. This type of position additionally allows the mucous and spit get gathered in the neck ergo creating great sleep issues.
Rising the upper body on cushions or pillows will help prevent the tongue from falling. The right type must certainly be utilized. Extra cushions could make the throat flex or port up the top creating a blockage in respiration if not positioned properly. The idea here is to raise the upper body not just the head.
The proper utilization of dental appliances: Such systems are employed to provide a proper port to the throat and for the avoidance of the smashing of the delicate areas of the neck. Simply consult a medical Sleep doctor with help in choosing such a device. Comfort is the key, one must use this device every night if it’s going to work.
Change the way and the method of one’s behavior before going to sleep. The consumption of alcohol before bed should be avoided. Not only does it create problems by relaxing the muscles in the throat during sleep. But alcohol converts to sugar when metabolize. Sugar is brain food thus this may keep one’s brain awake when it should be dreaming. Having liquor before going to sleep by no means resolves the condition. It may in fact make it worse. As Alcohol may prevent one from waking up during one of theses events to start breathing again. We all know what happens when one doesn’t breath. If I tie one on, I sleep in a chair sitting up.
Eliminate additional weight, this is hard to do. As one exhausted really doesn’t feel like exercising. Overweight folks are far more vulnerable to suffer with Sleep Apnea. A few reports demonstrate that after one begins dropping extra weight the more one eliminates the difficulty in breathing during sleep. The fat cells in the throat and airways are decreased and they open with increased strength keeping the airway open.
Finally, to help with all of this, there is a simple way to prevent one from sleeping on their back causing Sleep Apnea. I have cured a number of people of Sleep Apnea in my practice of sleep Medicine, for less than a dollar. Sow a tennis ball into the pocket that’s sewn on the back of a sleeping shirt. This is really effective in keeping one-off their back. I’ve used this myself as I have suffer from this condition. As one trains their body to sleep on its sides the ball may become unnecessary. Getting good sleep using the tennis ball will help with losing weight. Simply, because one feels better, exercise becomes an option. And the snowball effect begins in reverse. Not mention the other conditions caused by Sleep Apnea begin to dissipate. One may in time be able to reduce or eliminate their high blood pressure medications. And reduce the pressure on their heart.
If one should have questions on Sleep Apnea, Feel free to leave a comment. I would be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities. Please be aware that I no longer practice Medicine. But knowledge is knowledge. Or contact your Doctor.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. We don’t imply or condone the breaking of any laws. For educational purposes Only. Or are we telling anybody to do anything regarding themselves. Nor, am I a terrorist. We are all big boys and girls and can make up our own minds, if the Government Clowns would just take the fluoride out of the water supplies.