Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is characterized by breathing that is often completely or partially blocked during sleep. The condition can range from mild to severe that is based on how often the lungs could not receive adequate air. This can occur from 5 up to 50 times in an hour.

Possible causes of obstructive sleep apnea

Constricted or blocked airways in the mouth, nose or throat can cause sleep apnea. The airways might be clogged up if the throat muscles and the tongue relax while sleeping.

The condition can also occur if the individual has enlarged tonsils or adenoids. During the day when awake or standing up, these might not cause any issues. Upon lying down at night, they can compress the airway, constricting it and causing sleep apnea. The conditions can also occur if there is an issue with the jawbone.

Among children, the main cause of sleep apnea is enlarged adenoids or tonsils. The condition is likely to occur if overweight, using alcohol or certain medications before going to bed or sleeping on the back.

What are the indications?

The main indications of sleep apnea that are evident include:

  • Not feeling rested after a night’s sleep
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Feeling sleeping during the day
    Sleep apnea

    Not feeling rested after a night’s sleep.

The partner of the individual might notice the following while he/she sleeps:

  • Cessation of breathing
  • Gasping or choking
  • Snoring loudly often
  • Tossing and turning

Among children with sleep apnea, the following are evident:

  • Snoring
  • Hyperactive or have issues paying attention during the day
  • Restlessness during sleep and wake up often along with issues with bedwetting in some cases

Remember that children might not appear sleepy during the day. The only indication in some children is that they do not grow as rapidly as most children within their age group.

Possible conditions caused by sleep apnea

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Heart conditions such as heart failure, erratic heart rhythm, stroke or coronary artery disease

Management

A mild case can be managed with modifications in lifestyle especially with sleeping.

  • Cut down weight if overweight
  • Avoid alcohol and medications before sleeping
  • Sleeping on the side and not on the back

In case lifestyle changes are not effective, an oral breathing device or other types of devices might be used. These devices work by keeping the airway open while sleeping.

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