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Sleep Apnea

Snoring & Health

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome

You probably have heard about the common sleeping disorder, sleep apnea. However, you may not be aware that obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is the most common form of this condition. Basically, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is when the airway becomes blocked by tissue and causes irregular breathing. This usually occurs because the throat is narrow and once the muscles relax naturally as a person sleeps, air vibrates against the throat tissue which produces a snoring sound and makes it difficult for the person to breathe regularly.

Why You Should Seek Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  •  Risk Factors - Because obstructive sleep apnea syndrome occurs when air is trying to push through a narrow or blocked airway, there are some factors that make people more susceptible to having this disorder. A person’s jaw size can impact the airway. This is especially true for those that have a shorter bottom jaw. Large tonsils can block the airway. This is generally more common in children and young adults. A larger neck size, typically more than 16 inches can increase the chances of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Also, obesity can be a factor because of the access skin and fat can act as a blockage for breathing to occur naturally.
  • Symptoms - A frightening reality about obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is that many people are completely unaware that they even have irregular breathing while they sleep. Typically, symptoms are discovered by other people, however; there are some tell-tale warning signs that people should look out for. Feeling tired is probably the first sign, but is often overlooked because exhaustion can be related to many other factors in a person’s life. The increase of headaches, poor vision, and the inability to concentrate may also be symptoms of this sleep disorder. Depression can be another symptom that occurs due to the lack of regular sleep. While these symptoms may be derived from other health issues, it is never a bad idea to talk to your doctor about possibly having obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. 
  • Potential Complications - Sleep disorders can lead to a laundry list of other health risks. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause heart failure, high blood pressure, and even stroke. Without proper treatment you could suffer from severe depression, loss of interest in sex, poor work performance, and an increase likelihood of being involved in an accident of some sort.
  • Testing and Treatment - Generally, sleep disorders are diagnosed through a series of tests. Generally, your health care provider will perform a sleep study to observe your regular sleep pattern. Once a person is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, treatment includes: avoiding alcohol and caffeine, not sleeping on your back, losing weight. Other more aggressive treatments is a tracheotomy which is a surgery performed to open up the wind pipe.

If you suspect that you may have irregular breathing while you sleep, you should consult your medical provider at the very least to rule out obstructive sleep apnea as the problem. This condition is serious and could negatively affect other areas of your life.