Sleep apnea is an illness characterized by involuntary interruption of breathing during sleep. This pause can last for more than 10 seconds. Person may have hundreds of such episodes when he is asleep. Sleep apnea can be mild, moderate or severe depending on the length of interrupted breathing.
Blocked airway passages or narrow nasal passage can cause sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition and it left untreated can lead to health issues such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and depression. Treatment consists of conventional therapies as well as life style changes.
What Are The Main Causes Of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is basically of two types; obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is common among the two. In this type the air passage is partially blocked when the patient sleeps.
As the air entry is blocked or reduced, circulating oxygen in blood reduces. This triggers the brain to arouse the person from sleep so that he can breathe again. Patient may not remember that he was awake for a short interval during night.
In central sleep apnea the fault is in the brain itself. Brain is unable to send signals of the throat muscles to allow proper breathing. It may occur in people suffering from certain brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, brain tumor etc.
Sleep apnea affects men more than women. It is more common in obese persons, people consuming alcohol at night, structural defect in nose, use of sedatives, sleeping on back etc.
Major Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
The symptoms of sleep apnea are difficult to be recognized by the person as he is asleep. However, in most cases it is the sleeping partner who observes and notices the symptoms and makes it aware to the patient. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring every night that is even audible to people sleeping in other room.
- Patient usually chokes and gasps between snores.
- Paused breathing.
- Patient wakes up at night due to shortness of breathing.
- Tired and fatigue during daytime.
- Patient wakes up with sore throat and dryness in his mouth.
- Sexual weakness.
- Irritation and depression due to improper sleep.
- Lack of concentration.
- Wakes up frequently at night, sometimes not remembering the episode.
- Headache in morning.
Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea
People suffering from sleep apnea are at risk of suffering from serious health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Therefore without delay when they come to know of this sleep disorder they should start the treatment.
Certain lifestyle changes such as sleeping sideways, reducing weight if you are overweight, quitting smoking are some important steps in treating sleep apnea. Doctors also advice to use CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and apparatus that allows pressured air flow into the throat and mouth which keeps the throat opened during sleep.
Sleep apnea can be treated naturally with certain home remedies aside from lifestyle changes. Honey, cinnamon, chamomile, peppermint, and throat exercise all help in preventing and strengthening muscles of throat which block the air movement.