Sleep apnea is the interruption of breathing during sleep; It can consist in one or more breathing pauses and is characterized by the fact that there is respiratory muscle movements. It is a very serious condition that can endanger life and is more common than previously believed.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
– Dry throat on waking;
– Memory disorders;
– Attention disorders;
– Mood changes;
– Loud and persistent snoring;
– Nocturnal urination;
– Sudden awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
– Insomnia (difficulty staying asleep);
Those who have a higher risk of sleep apnea are overweight, hypertensive, those who snore loudly and those who have certain problems in the nose, throat or other parts of the upper airway.
The use of alcohol and sedatives increase the frequency and duration of pauses in breathing. Those suffering from untreated sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods of time, but repeatedly, (20-30 pauses per hour, sometimes more). This means that – during sleep apnea – the brain, and the body does not receive enough oxygen.
Sleep apnea may be associated with:
– Myocardial infarction (heart attacks);
– Heart failure, irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias);
– Sleepiness during the day;
– Increased risk of accidents;
In the general context, sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance is daily activities (work, school) or vehicle accidents.
– Males are more susceptible to this disease;
– + 65 years;
– Alcohol or sedatives;
– Large neck size (circumference over 43 cm);
– Large size of the tongue, jaw bone;
– Family history of sleep apnea
– Nasal obstruction due to septal deviation, of allergies or some sinus problems.
Treatment of sleep apnea
Consult the doctor if you have:
– Pain or tightness in the chest;
– Difficulty in breathing;
– profuse sweating;
– Weakness on one side of the body;
– Loud snoring;
– Intermittent pause in breathing during sleep;
For mild sleep apnea treatment consists in sleeping on one side, thereby preventing the tongue and soft palate to fall back and block the airway. Another treatment is to avoid alcohol and sleeping pills, which can relax the neck muscles, contributing to airway collapse during the night.
For the medium to severe forms, treatment consists of a device called a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) – continuous positive pressure therapy in airways. It uses a nasal mask during sleep / facial and a CPAP machine that creates a continuous positive airway pressure to prevent their obstruction caused by muscle relaxation.
Untreated sleep apnea can have serious consequences on life, resulting in decreased quality of life and different diseases, so we need to present to your doctor if you notice one or more of the above symptoms, snoring is the most important.