All about Obstructive Sleep Apnea & when to seek Medical Help

Have you ever realized that how important sleep is in your life? Have you ever taken snoring, sleeplessness at night and feeling sleepy throughout the day despite of having enough sleep at night seriously? If not, it’s high time you should take your sleep and your sleep related issues seriously as all of the above mentioned symptoms indicate towards Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA – a potentially serious sleep disorder. On this World Sleep Day know what Obstructive Sleep Apnea is, what the symptoms & risks factors of it are and how to cure it.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes stoppages of breathing during sleep unconsciously. It is caused by intermittent relaxation of the throat muscles, which block the airway, leading towards shallow breath and even brief stoppage of breathing while sleeping. As a result, air gets squeezed through the narrow airway making the person snore while sleeping.

Obstructive sleep apnea leads to progressive asphyxia which increases breathing effort and forces a person to awaken from sleep. Since the upper airway gets blocked, the diaphragm and chest muscles make extra effort to open the obstructed pathway and force fill the lungs with air. However, it affects the amount of oxygen reaching the important organs of the body and thus, the brain raises an alarming signal. This causes the body to wake up partially, re-open the airflow, and the breathing resumes with a loud snort or jerk.

These abovementioned incidents can happen several times throughout the night with anyone suffering from sleep apnea. Although they don’t wake up completely, sleep apnea disrupts their sound sleep, leaving the person feel sleepy throughout the day time. Besides all these, sleep apnea can also cause irregular heart rhythms, risk of stroke, hypertension and diabetes.

Common symptoms of Sleep Apnea:
The most prominent symptom of Sleep Apnea is loud snoring – loud enough to disrupt the sleep of the person himself or herself and even others.
Other signs and symptoms include:
• Excessive drowsiness or sleepiness during the day
• Waking up gasping or choking
• Chronic fatigue
• Dry mouth or a sore throat on waking up
• Morning headache
• Lack of concentration
• Mood swings
• Depression
• High blood pressure
• Forgetfulness
• Swelling in the legs

Risk Factors of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

Men and women typically of middle age and older age are more prone to obstructive sleep apnea. However, it can affect children as well. Certain health factors are there which can put one at increased risk of OSA. They are:

• Obesity – Most of the people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. Fat those deposits around the upper airway may obstruct breathing. Medical conditions that are associated with obesity, like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome, also can cause obstructive sleep apnea.

Narrowed Airway – You may inherit naturally narrow airways. Your tonsils or adenoids may also enlarge blocking your airway.

• High blood pressure (Hypertension) – Obstructive sleep apnea is relatively common in people with hypertension.

• Chronic nasal congestion – Obstructive sleep apnea occurs twice as often in those who are suffering from consistent nasal congestion at night, regardless of the cause. This may be due to narrowed airways.

• Diabetes – Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people with diabetes.

• Smoking – People who smoke are more prone to develop obstructive sleep apnea.

• A family history of sleep apnea – If any of your family members have obstructive sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.

Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
Adequate and timely treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can help keep the obstructed airways open during a person’s sleep so he or she can breathe normally and continuously. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, adequate physical activity, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol can help relieve symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Persons suffering from OSA are also advised to avoid sleeping on their backs as it can aggravate the problem.
Apart from these lifestyle changes, nasal decongestants and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices can treat obstructive sleep apnea in most patients. A CPAP machine consists of a mask that a patient must wear over the nose and mouth while sleeping. This mask has a hose connected to a small machine that can be kept at the bedside. This machine pumps air at a constant pressure, into the patient’s airway, to ensure that the airway is kept open.

Neotia Getwel Healthcare Centre’s Sleep Disorder and Snoring Clinic is a comprehensive clinic for detection and treatment of sleep related problems where a multi-disciplinary board comprises of specialists from the field of Pulmonology, Neurology, ENT, Endocrinology, Cardiology who asses and monitors your sleep pattern, diagnose your problems and takes your medical history and offers treatment facility for alleviating snoring and sleep disorder.