Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder exhibited during sleep, characterized by periods of abnormal breathing cessation from 10-seconds to minutes. These periods of apnea can be repetitious from 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Daytime cognizance is impacted with memory difficulties, excessive, debilitating, chronic fatigue and decreased reaction time, resulting in accidents, inattentiveness and decreased work productivity.
The three classifications of apnea are Obstructive (OSA), Central (CSA) and Complex, which is a combination of the other two forms. Obstructive is most common and occurs as muscular relaxation allows lax musculature to fall and block the airway. Central begins in the CNS, when the brain does not transmit the correct signals to the respiratory muscles that serve breathing. Causative factors can be fat accumulation in the neck due to obesity, or disease that impacts the respiratory or central nervous system.
This sleep-time disorder exhibits signs that can be part of other conditions. Chronic, daytime fatigue, waking with dry mouth, sore throat or morning headaches and insomnia need to be assessed for conclusive diagnosis. Personality changes can impact social lives and the workplace with mood swings, aggression and impaired motivational drive. Consultation with your physician is necessary to unravel the mystery of your symptoms, rule out complicating health conditions and effectively seek corrective treatment.
Many health problems share certain similarities that are predisposing for a specific condition. Apnea has a propensity for predominantly effecting males. Lifestyle choices that predispose apnea sufferers are obesity, particularly those with a large neck size (over 17), smokers, heavy drinkers, drug abusers, and the physically inactive. Circumstances beyond the patient’s control include genetics, aging, depression, stress, dementia, cardiovascular or thyroid disease and naturally narrow airways.
Some possible complications are the direct result of excessive fatigue that occurs with apnea that can lead to accidents while driving, or inattentiveness creating hazards during manual labor or when operating machinery. Permanent brain damage or death can result from recurrent episodes of inadequate oxygen to the brain. Heartbeat irregularities and congestive heart failure can be initiated or worsened with episodic lack of oxygen over a period of time.
Diagnostic measures include observation of symptoms by someone close to you, medical history and exam by a physician, laboratory studies that measure oxygen in the blood, chest-wall movement and nasal air flow. Usually, a brain wave study via electroencephalogram (EEG) is performed, in addition to overnight studies known as a polysomnogram, done in a controlled, laboratory environment for confirmed diagnosis.
Milder cases of this disorder may be treated with weight loss or abstaining from a tobacco habit. If these measure are unsuccessful, an oral appliance designed to keep the throat open by bringing the jaw forward is an option. Continuous positive airway pressure can benefit patients unless the mask feels uncomfortably claustrophobic, making compliance unlikely. Surgery is generally reserved for severe, life-threatening cases.
Treatment measures, other than surgery or weight loss in obese patients, aim at controlling sleep apnea Ottawa rather than curing it. Medication is sometimes prescribed for a small number of patients in an effort to help control daytime sleepiness. Lifetime compliance to therapy measures is usually the norm.