Understanding sleep apnea
In an age where sleep is often overlooked, we felt it necessary to learn more about a little-known but common sleep disorder: apnea. This phenomenon, more precisely called sleep apnea syndrome, can have serious health consequences if left untreated. In this article, we will define this disorder, examine its possible causes and symptoms, discuss its impact on health and finally present the appropriate treatments.
The disorder defined
Have you ever been woken up by loud, irregular snoring noises? You may have obstructive sleep apnea. This respiratory disorder manifests itself by frequent cessations of breathing during sleep, leading to a drop in blood oxygenation. The person suffering from this syndrome may not be aware of these apneas.
These interruptions can last from a few moments to several minutes and can occur up to thirty times or more each night. These pauses are usually followed by a loud snoring noise or choking as the person tries to catch their breath.
There are three main forms of sleep apnea : obstructive apnea, central apnea and mixed apnea.
- Obstructive apnea results from physical obstruction of the airways.
- Central apnea arises from a dysfunction in the central nervous system that regulates breathing.
- Mixed apnea combines the two previous forms.
The most common sign is loud snoring, but not all snorers suffer from sleep apnea syndrome.
It is important to emphasize that this is not just a snoring problem. It is indeed a serious medical condition that can have adverse health consequences if not treated properly, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression and stroke.
Sleep apnea can be caused by several physical factors. Obesity, as a major risk, is one of them. Excess weight can cause airway obstruction during nighttime rest. Furthermore, enlarged tonsils or nasal deformation can also cause this health problem. The use of certain sedative medications can promote apnea by relaxing the muscles located in the throat.
In addition to physical factors, certain habits can increase the risk of sleep apnea. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are two harmful practices that can cause or exacerbate this pathology. Patients who smoke are three times more likely than those who do not smoke to be affected by sleep apnea syndrome, due to the inflammation and water retention in the upper passages that they induce. . Concerning alcohol, it relaxes the muscles of the throat and could thus partially or completely obstruct these passages during nighttime rest.
Detection and symptoms
Observe the signs
Sleep apnea often manifests itself through symptoms that can be observed at home. Loud, regular snoring, punctuated by pauses in breathing followed by a sudden restart, is typical. The affected person may wake up suddenly, feeling suffocated or suffocated. Patients may also experience excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and even irritability.
The consequences on health
Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to long-term health problems. Patients with undiagnosed sleep apnea syndrome have an increased risk of developing complications such as heart problems, hypertension, heart rhythm disorders, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and strokes.
Additionally, daytime sleepiness can reduce quality of life, increase the risk of road and workplace accidents, and cause relationship problems.
Diagnosis and treatment
To confirm the diagnosis of sleep apnea, it is necessary to consult a sleep specialist. The diagnosis is often made using polysomnography, a test performed overnight in a sleep laboratory. This test records various bodily functions during sleep, such as electrical activity of the brain, eye movements, blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, as well as breathing and muscle movements.
Treatment for sleep apnea may vary depending on the severity of the disorder and individual symptoms. Treatment options include:
- Lifestyle changes : Losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives, quitting smoking, and sleeping on your side can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Gummies or CBD oils can promote relaxation and therefore help with these changes.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines : The most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea involves the use of a CPAP machine that keeps the airway open by providing a constant flow of air through a mask worn during sleep.
- Oral appliances : Designed to hold the jaw forward and prevent the tongue from blocking the throat, these devices may be an option for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.
- Surgical Procedures : In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove obstructing tissue, correct nasal septum deviations, or other procedures to widen the airway.
- Nerve stimulation therapy : For cases of severe sleep apnea, a recent option involves stimulation of the nerve that controls the tongue and upper airway muscles to keep the airways open.
It is essential to learn to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and consult a doctor for diagnosis and proper treatment. Patients should be aware of the importance of good sleep and the risks of untreated sleep disorders. With the right information and medical support, patients can significantly improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of heart complications and other related health conditions.
By becoming aware of this syndrome and acting quickly on the symptoms, we can all learn to better manage this disorder and enjoy more restful nights and better health during the day.