According to recent statistics, at least 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a health condition that happens when one’s breathing during sleep stops for a while, usually 10 seconds or longer. Its severity is measured by the frequency of episodes per hour, 5 to 45 times per hour. Do you think you may have sleep apnea, take our quiz below?
- Do you regularly snore a lot? Is your snoring so loud that you or someone else is awakened by it?
- Does it ever happen to you that you wake up abruptly, often choking or gasping for air?
- During the day, do you feel extremely sleepy? Even if you’re doing something, do you have a hard time staying awake to finish it?
- Do you have dry mouth, headaches, or a sore throat when you wake up in the morning?
If you answer YES to all of the above questions, your probably have sleep apnea.
Symptoms may include:
Gasping or choking for air during sleep
Drowsiness, lack of concentration
Irritable, Mood Swings
High Blood Pressure
Family history of sleep apnea
Small airways of the nose mouth and throat
Dry mouth when waking
Restless sleep, changing positions frequently
Frequent urination at night
Treatments: The goal in treating your sleep apnea is to restore back your regular breathing during the night and solve symptoms such as snoring and sleepiness during the day.
Lifestyle Changes: For a mild case of apnea a few changes in your lifestyle may be all that are needed. Limit or eliminate the use of alcohol and tobacco products. These both have adverse affects on your airways. Lose some weight. A small amount of weight loss has been effective in lowering the frequency of apnea in a majority of patients.
Customized Mouthpiece: An oral appliance may prove to be useful to those with mild apnea. Your dentist or orthodontist can customize a mouthpiece that you wear at night that will keep your throat airways open as you sleep.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): If you have moderate to severe apnea CPAP is the most frequent and effective treatment method. CPAP is a mask worn over the nose and mouth during sleep that allows you to have the right amount of airway pressure to keep your throat open.
Surgery: Surgery aims to remove unnecessary tissue build-up in the throat to open up the airway. This is usually a last resort and as with any surgery the risks are greater than in other treatment options.
Prevention: There are several ways to prevent sleep apnea from developing or to reduce the frequency of the attacks.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Studies showed that a 10% decrease in weight would reduce the frequency of apnea episodes up to 26%.
- Avoid or limit alcohol intake.
- Avoid or limit the use of tranquilizers and sleeping pills.
- Get regular sleep. Lack of sleep increases the frequency of apnea attacks.
- Treat allergies and runny noses promptly. You don’t want to narrow your nasal passages.
- Avoid sleeping on your back.
Sleep apnea is a condition that should be taken seriously. Sever apnea can lead to depression, memory loses, irritability and other negative socio-psychological conditions. Sleep apnea may also increase your risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke. Good sleep is vital for your physical health and mental health, if you suspect you may have sleep apnea it is important enough to schedule an appointment with your physician.