What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea refers to the interruption of breathing during sleep. The
most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, this is when the muscles
of the soft palate around the base of the tongue and uvula relax, thus
obstructing the airway. This
airway obstruction causes the level of oxygen in the blood to fall,
increases the stress on the heart, elevates blood pressure and prevents
you from entering "REM sleep", the restful and restorative stage of
sleep.Sleep apnea causes the deprivation of quality sleep.
What are the symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring or abnormal pattern of
snoring with pauses and gasps, excessive daytime sleepiness, memory
changes, depression and irritability. In some patients sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and heart attack. About
4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women have sleep
apnea. Sleep apnea can be aggravated by alcohol, sleeping pills
and tranquilizers taken at bedtime.
How is Sleep Apnea diagnosed?
Laboratories" are available to monitor different stages of sleep,
diagnose sleep apnea, determine the type and severity of sleep apnea and
How is Sleep Apnea treated?
measures in treating sleep apnea include weight loss, avoiding alcohol
and sedatives, sleeping on one side and medications to relieve nasal
congestion. More specific
treatment include CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), oral
appliances to open the airway, and ENT surgery, where the surgeon
removes excessive soft tissue in the back of the throat to relieve
obstruction. CPAP is an effective treatment for sleep apnea. A mask is worn over the nose during sleep while air is gently forced into the airway to splint it open.