24 May 2012

Sleep Apnea A Serious Illness

Story first appeared in The Detroit News.

The meaning of "apnea" is "no breathing." Sleep apnea is defined by 10-second or longer periods of no breathing during the night. To qualify as true sleep apnea, there must be five or more no-breathing episodes within an hour. Some people have as many as 30 such episodes every hour. The cause of the most common kind of sleep apnea is an obstruction of the flow of air by lax tissue in the back of the mouth and throat.

Loud snoring often is an indication of sleep apnea. The snoring grows louder and louder until there's a sudden quiet. The quiet comes about when apnea takes place. It's shattered by a gasp as the snorer partially wakens and begins breathing once again.

Sleep apnea patients wake in the morning feeling unrefreshed. They're tired during the day and fall asleep at inappropriate times and places, even when driving.

Sleep apnea has medical consequences. It causes a rise in blood pressure. It leads to heart disease. It's a serious illness.

Obesity makes a significant contribution to this problem. Weight reduction, therefore, is a natural way to put an end to it or to make it less of a threat to health. Abstaining from all alcohol in the evening is another natural treatment.

A dentist can recommend to patients an appliance that brings the jaw forward at night to prevent apnea. Many people use a device that delivers, via a mask, air under pressure.

The pressurized air makes it through the obstructing tissues in the throat. There are varying types of Sleep Medicine or Programs that can be administered to correct or lessen the symptoms of sleep apnea.

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