Sleep apnea is a condition in which the patient is unable to breath for brief periods while he or she is asleep. It is categorized into two: obstructive and central. In fact, the individual suffering from this disorder actually stops breathing. You must seriously consider this point because it indicates the dangerous nature of this sleep disorder. If neglected and left untreated, it could cause death.
Who Contracts Sleep Apnea?
Morbidly obese people usually suffer from this problem, which is why they have to wear oxygen masks to bed. In the obese, sleep apnea is caused by the pressure of their own weight on their lungs. Obese people also snore a lot and gasp for breath. Usually, middle-aged men who are morbidly obese are at a greater risk of contracting sleep apnea. A woman’s physiology protects her from contracting this disorder.
Obstructive sleep apnea has an adverse effect on the patient’s heart because deprivation from oxygen prevents proper circulation. This disorder is, therefore, associated with congenital and congestive heart failure, which is again found in morbidly obese people. Sleep apnea is more in coronary cases that have been left neglected and untreated for such a long time that now they are no longer considered to be treatable.
People with congenital Down’s Syndrome stand a greater risk of contracting sleep apnea because about half the patients of Down’s syndrome have large heads, tonsils, tongue, and adenoids as well as a narrow nasopharynx.
People who have undergone pharyngeal flap surgery also suffer from sleep apnea because the surgery gives rise to an obstruction in breathing, which can cause death if it is not monitored by an efficient doctor. Sleep apnea can be treated in a number of ways. Usually, doctors and ENT specialists consider the following points while drawing up treatment plans for people suffering from sleep apnea.
Minor symptoms of sleep apnea include irritability, concentration problems, frequent urination, rise in heart rate, depression, esophageal reflux, headaches, moodiness, Noctoria (a condition which forces a patient to visit the bathroom for urination at night), lowered libido, and profuse sweating in the night.
Doctors usually consider the severity of the sleep apnea, the person’s medical history, and the cause of the breathing obstruction for that particular patient while drawing up a treatment plan. Mostly, treatment includes a change in the lifestyle and abstinence from alcohol.
The lifestyle changes patients are required to make include losing weight and giving up smoking. They are also asked to elevate themselves while sleeping by propping themselves on pillows, which enables easier breathing.
Morbidly obese people can greatly improve their condition if they manage to lose at least 50 pounds in two months. If unable to do this on their own, they have to become part of a support system that will help them stick to a strict diet and exercise regime. This will prepare them for other treatments that will help them maintain their weight loss.
Surgical techniques such as gastric bypass will be of great help to such people because it is irreversible and forces them to eat healthy and moderately and, thereby, change their lifestyle. The other weight loss technique is a lap band. Though reversible, it helps people maintain weight loss and enables them to improve their breathing and sleep patterns.