Dead Air: The Perils of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common chronic disorder that causes a person to have one or more breathing pauses or shallow breaths during their sleep. These breathing pauses can last from seconds up to minutes and can happen more than 30 times during an hour’s sleep. Breathing usually resumes after a loud snort or choking sound. This often causes a transition from deep sleep to light sleep, resulting in the person feeling excessively tired during the daytime.
Sleep apnea is a chronic medical condition where an individual suffers from breathing issues such as shallow breathing or breathing with pauses. Such pauses can be for a few seconds or up to minutes; they can even take up as much as 30 minutes of an hour’s worth of sleep. The breathing of the individual would then resume after a choking sound or loud snort. There are various types of sleep apnea, but obstructive sleep apnea is the most common among them; it is caused due to the relaxation of the throat muscles, which occurs during sleep. This is commonly seen in overweight people, but it can affect others as well. Some of the other types of sleep apnea are common sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. There are various factors that contribute to the occurrence of sleep apnea, and one is the weight of an individual; overweight or obese individuals have an excess of fatty tissues present in their neck and throat, leading to the restriction of the upper respiratory system’s pathway. The age of the individual is another factor; as we age, the throat muscles tend to lose their integrity and have a tendency to collapse into the airway while sleeping. Enlargement of the tonsils, frequent alcohol consumption, and genetics are a few of the other contributors for sleep apnea as well.
To deal with sleep apnea, an individual should first introduce certain changes into their lifestyle, such as weight loss, avoiding alcohol, and quitting smoking. Those who suffer from a moderate case of sleep apnea should make use of breathing devices, or some can also go in for surgery. CPAP is known to be one of the more common breathing devices for those who suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnea. A few of the other available breathing devices are auto-CPAP, BiPAP, and EPAP. There are also oral appliances that keep the airways open while sleeping. Surgery should be considered a last resort for the treatment of sleep apnea. There are various forms of surgery for sleep apnea, such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, maxillomandibular, and implants. There is also a tracheostomy, which involves the surgical creation of new airways by carrying out an incision through the neck, and then a plastic tube is inserted through the opening.
Similar to other kinds of chronic medical conditions, one has a greater chance of beating sleep apnea by diagnosing it early, but there are challenges when it comes to identifying this condition. It is more difficult in developing countries, too, because there are not enough proper sleep research facilities or staff to fill them. Sleep is the body’s way of revitalizing itself during the night hours, and a lack of sleep can make the body vulnerable to various dangerous illnesses. Sleep is as important for our bodies as the food we consume to live a healthy life. Sleep helps to heal and repair the body, and it ensures that the body is ready to endure whatever comes the next day. So, it is better to get it diagnosed as soon as possible with proper medical care.