Sleep Apnea (or Sleep Apnoea) is a condition where a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep for several seconds, multiple times a night. As a result, the oxygen supply in the blood and subsequently to the brain, declines. This can lead to a disruption of normal bodily functions and pave the way for serious and life threatening conditions. If you or someone you know exhibits symptoms like snoring, morning headaches, excessive sleepiness during the day and continual fatigue, chances are high that you are suffering from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects approximately 120 million Indians today and nearly 90% of them are unaware that they have a potentially serious disorder.
Sleep Apnea can be classified into three types, based on the reason behind breathing interruptions.
This is the most common kind of sleep apnea, where the airway is blocked completely or in part during sleep. This prevents proper airflow into the lungs, leading to a drop in blood oxygen levels. This signals the brain to wake up and breathe, which is usually heard as a sudden gasp by the patient. Obstructive sleep apnea may be due to a deviated septum, floppy palate, obesity, tonsillitis or basic jaw structure.
Central Sleep Apnea happens because the brain fails to send the relevant muscles, the signal to breathe. Central sleep apnea usually occurs in people with any kind of cardiac or cerebrovascular disease. Here, the brain monitors carbon dioxide levels in the blood instead of oxygen, and based on this, the patient ends up increasing or decreasing the rate of breathing.
This kind of sleep apnea affects between 0.5% - 18% of all sleep apnea patients. It initially starts with central sleep apnea and later transforms to OSA. Since such patients show a combination of CSA and OSA symptoms, they are generally advised to use a CPAP device set at the lowest pressure. This keeps the airway open while preventing CSA symptoms from developing.
Good sleep is important for a good life. It doesn't just rejuvenate you but also reflects on your mental and physical wellbeing. Obstructive sleep apnea the natural rejuvenation process that happens in the body during sleep. Patients are usually unaware of this problem and in most cases, sleep apnea symptoms get attributed to something else other than sleep.
Constant deprivation from sleep can result in daytime sleepiness, poor concentration and increased risk of accidents. Obstructive sleep apnoea can also lead to serious health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and stroke. However, proper treatment of sleep apnoea will not only control these symptoms but will also improve the quality of life making you feel less tired and less sleepy during the day.
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