Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sleep Apnea: Commonly Occurring Symptoms and Related Diseases

Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea
((Pixabay Public Domain Photos)

Snoring is a symptom

Never ignore a simple matter like snoring. It probably is a precursor to deadly diseases like elevated blood pressure, congestive heart disease, diabetes and mental disturbances. It is known technically as sleep apnea. 

I)             Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The signs of this ailment are pretty obvious. People who see them tend to ignore them and that presents the biggest danger. Inability to concentrate, restlessness, poor appetite, elevated blood sugar and lowered metabolic rate does not ring alarm bells for most people. However, if they have sleep apnea, they will develop related diseases in due course.
  • Elevated sugar level in blood
  •  Irritation
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness or lethargy
Person will be irritable ((Pixabay Public Domain Photos)
Break in breathing pattern that last up to 2 or 3 minutes making the person choke for breath is most common. Breath returns with a harsh sound called a snore and the person continues to sleep without being aware of anything untoward happening. This kind of break will decrease the amount of oxygen taken in by the lungs. There is a gradual carbon dioxide build up and thus the blood becomes impure. Normal metabolic activity depends on oxygen intake and when this is stopped, metabolic activities like cell repair, tissue growth and distribution of vital elements to different parts of the body is stopped. This leads to various diseases over time.

II)              Different types of sleep apnea

One can solve any problem by getting to the bottom of it. In sleep apnea the cause may be psychological or physiological. The reasons for this kind of ailment are given here. 
      a)     Failure of central nervous system
      b)    Excess growth
Excess growth in the airways of the person blocks flow of air leading to poor sleep patterns. When the events during the sleep increase, oxygen intake decreases. If a person has 0 –15 events during sleep, he has mild sleep apnea. If the number of events is 15 – 30 then he has average sleep apnea. However, if he has more than 30 events then he must undergo treatment immediately. 
Sleep apnea is dangerous (Pixabay Public Domain Photos)

When the person is fat or has enlarged tonsils there is excess growth in the airways. This is also known as obstructive sleep apnea. In the second type of apnea, the nervous system fails to signal the brain to continue the breathing process. This will result in the person stopping breathing altogether. While this is not dangerous in any way, it could lead to dangerous diseases.

Usual treatment for this ailment

Normal treatment for sleep apnea consists of use of oral devices for obstructive sleep apnea. One may also use CPAP– Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – to overcome the lack of breath. The positive air pressure ensures that the person will continue breathing even when there is a pause of breath. For some patients one may need to use medicines like methylphenidate (Ritalin) , nicotine or progesterone. However, it is not a treatment in the sense these medications only relieve the symptoms. They do not address the ailment itself.