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IDENTIFYING AND TREATING SLEEP APNEA


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IDENTIFYING AND TREATING SLEEP APNEA

A good night sleep is vital to our health.  Unfortunately, the majority of us do not get enough sleep.  The minimum amount of sleep is 7 hours in order for our bodies to function well.  Many people suffer from a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea that compromises our sleep.

What is Sleep Apnea?

When you suffer from sleep apnea, your airway narrows and does not allow you to get enough oxygen.  This can happen for many reasons; your throat muscles might relax too much, your tongue and tonsils are too large in relation to your windpipe, or you might have extra tissue from being overweight which thickens your windpipe wall and narrows your airway.  Sleep apnea can also develop when the brain does not communicate well with the muscles that need to keep the airway open.

The result of sleep apnea causes a vibration by the unsuccessful effort to pull the air in and therefore snoring begins.  If your oxygen levels become too low, your brain will wake you in order to prevent you from dying in your sleep.  This can happen hundreds of times per night in severe cases.

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Sleep Apnea is the major cause of high blood pressure and can lead to inflammation and clogging of your arteries.  The long term effects can cause irritability and depression and even cause death during sleeping.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Common signs and symptoms include:  daytime sleepiness, interruption in nighttime breathing, frequent urination during the night, abrupt awakening followed by shortness of breath, loud snoring at night, acid reflux, mood changes, headaches, memory loss, and a large neck size (greater than 17″ for men and 16″ for women).

What should you do?

Lifestyle changes are the best way to treat sleep apnea.  You should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.  If you smoke, stop!  Smoking inflames the airway, narrowing it and making it more difficult for oxygen to get in.  Lose excess weight; losing 10% of your body weight can improve sleep apnea by a third.  Treat nasal congestion; this will help reduce inflammation and open up your airway.  Avoid alcohol and sedatives; both of these will depress your brain activity which can compromise the ability to get enough oxygen.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

The best effective treatment is called CPAP which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.  This is a machine that attaches to a face mask that you wear while sleeping that creates a positive pressure keeping your airway open to allow sufficient oxygenation.  This treatment option has a 90-95% success rate.

Treating Sleep Apnea can change your life and save your life!

Jackie Gorman is a Respiratory Therapist that specializes in sleep apnea and working with individuals that need CPAP therapy.  You can contact Jackie or search for sleep apnea products at http://www.sleeptherapysolutions.net

 


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