Breathing on and off during sleep -Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized with cessation and resumption of breath while asleep arising from the blocking of the upper airways. It is also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It accounts for sleeplessness in babies leading to growth, learning, behavior and heart disorders as well as loss of life if left untreated. 

 

Causes

Excessive or prolong relaxation of the throat muscle leading to the collapse of the airways.

Neurological disorder

Enlarged tonsils

 

Risk factors

Defective body structures such as the mouth, throat narrowing the airways

Obesity

Cerebral Palsy

Supine sleeping

Chronic sinusitis

Menopause

Down syndrome

Smoking

Family history of sleep apnea

Large overbite

Large neck and tongue

 

Symptoms

Intermittent break in sleep especially at night

Brief gasping

Daytime sleepiness

Insomnia

Loud snoring

Waking up several times a night to urinate

Morning headache

Irritability

Heartburn

Low sexual urge

Erectile Dysfunction

Incessant break of sleep especially at night

Snoring

Restless sleep

Bedwetting

Behavioral problems

 

 

Diagnosis

Sleep study known as polysomnography is highly effective in diagnosing sleep apnea usually done at an overnight sleep laboratory and focus on recording  brain waves, eye and leg movements, oxygen levels, airflow and heart rhythm during sleep.

Similarly, Home Sleep Apnea Testing (HSAT) can also be used to monitor the level of oxygen in the blood, the movement of air via the nose while breathing as well as heart rate and chest movements while the user is asleep.

The severity of sleep apnea is measured with the number of apnea episodes that happen per hour:

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Normal – 0-5 apnea episodes per hour

Mild sleep apnea – 5-15 apnea episodes per hour

Moderate sleep apnea – 16-30 apnea episodes per hour

Severe sleep apnea – 31+ episodes per hour

 

 

Treatment

Surgical intervention known as adenotonsillectomy may be recommended to remove tonsils and adenoids.

Airway pressure therapy may be done involving use of mask to cover the nose and mouth during sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that continuously pumps air into it to open the airways.

Regular exercise to reduce weight

 



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