The word ‘apnea’ loosely translates to ‘no breathing’. Sleep apnea is, therefore, a sleeping disorder where a person stops breathing or takes in extremely shallow breaths while asleep. This leads to less oxygen reaching body parts, particularly the brain, and can cause several serious problems as a consequence. Episodes may last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.
An obstruction to the airway by any means causes the more common kind of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
The other type of sleep apnea, Central Sleep Apnea, is caused by the respiratory center of the brain failing to signal the muscles of respiration to breathe.
Anybody can suffer from sleep apnea, but there are a few groups of people who’re at more risk than other such as:
The main problem is the lack of oxygen going to the brain and other parts of the body during attacks. This can lead to widespread effects including but not limited to:
Irritability and depression | Inability to cope with daily life | Headaches
Fatigue | High blood pressure | Heartbeat irregularities or even heart failure | Stroke
A combination of the following few symptoms could mean that somebody has sleep apnea. If you're suffering from these symptoms, make sure you consult a doctor, as sleep apnea can be a very serious condition requiring medical intervention.
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A polysomnograph (a sleep test) is the method most commonly used.
This is usually done in a sleep clinic where you'd get your own bed, but nowadays equipment to perform this test at home is also available.
During the test, there are machines electronically recording your sleeping pattern and recording abnormalities, if any, during the same.
Yes, sleep apnea is a manageable condition. Depending upon the severity of an individuals case, a multi-pronged approach can be availed:
By Dharini Prasad
Guest Author and Student of Medicine
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