What is Sleep Apnea and Why is Early Diagnosis Essential?



Everyone knows that regular exercise and a good diet are the most important things you can do for a healthy life. It turns out, however, that a person’s sleep quality is also important for overall well-being. Undiagnosed sleep apnea is directly linked to a decrease in quality of life and an increase in cardiovascular and metabolic health risk.Also read – Vitamins C, D and Zinc do not reduce your chances of dying from covid-19: study

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart problems. If left untreated, sleep apnea causes frequent shortness of breath during sleep, leading to loud snoring and daytime fatigue, even with a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea can affect anyone, although the majority of its audience are older men who are overweight. Sleep apnea occurs in about 3% of average-weight individuals but affects more than 20% of obese people. Sleep apnea affects men more than women, although the rate of sleep apnea increases dramatically in women after menopause. Also read – 5 wonderful benefits of quitting chocolate for a month

Signs of sleep apnea?

There are two types of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when there is no air in the nose or mouth even though you are trying to breathe. Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain fails to send the right signals to your muscles to start breathing. The latter form of sleep apnea is less common. Also read – 6 exercises must be done while recovering from covid

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Snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea but is not the norm for this disorder. Snoring is just a vibrational sound created by the resistance of the airways. You can snore loudly and not sleep apnea, and you can also have sleep apnea without snoring too much. In addition, people suffering from sleep apnea may also complain of unexplained fatigue and mood swings as their breathing disturbances constantly wake them up, preventing them from settling into deep, nutritious REM sleep.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The first signs of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are often identified not by the patient but by their partner. Many of those affected have no complaints about sleep. The most common signs and symptoms of OSA include:

  • Snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Restlessness during sleep, frequent waking at night
  • Sudden awakening with a feeling of shortness of breath or suffocation
  • Dry mouth or sore throat on waking
  • Cognitive impairment, such as difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, or irritability
  • Including mood disorders, anxiety and depression
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Frequent headaches

People with central sleep apnea report frequent wakefulness or insomnia, although they may also experience shortness of breath or shortness of breath after waking up. Some common symptoms in children include poor school performance, lethargy during the day, difficulty breathing through the mouth, difficulty swallowing, abnormal sleep patterns, getting wet in bed, excessive sweating at night and learning and behavioral disorders.

What is the treatment for sleep apnea?

In mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), conservative treatment may be the solution. If the person is obese, weight loss is an effective remedy as weight loss can reduce the number of apneic events for most patients. However, weight loss with untreated obstructive sleep apnea can be challenging due to increased appetite and metabolic changes. In addition, individuals with obstructive sleep apnea should avoid the use of alcohol and certain sleeping pills as it can affect their airways and lead to prolonged collapse of apnea. Patients with sinus problems or nasal congestion should use nasal sprays or breathing bandages to reduce snoring; This will eventually improve air flow for a more comfortable breathing at night. It is important that everyone who has sleep apnea also tries to get the required number of hours of sleep as deficiency can have a detrimental effect.

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Another treatment for OSA is positive airway pressure therapy. With PAP therapy, patients wear masks over their nose and mouth. The air blower gently pushes air through the nose and mouth. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is sufficient to prevent the tissues of the upper airways from collapsing during sleep. There are many styles and types of positive airway pressure devices based on the specific needs of patients.

Finally, surgical procedures can help people with obstructive sleep apnea and others who snore but do not have sleep apnea. Surgery is for people who have obstructed the flow of air through the nose or throat, such as a distorted nasal passage, significantly enlarged tonsils, or small lower jaws with excessive stings that make the throat unusually narrow. These procedures are usually performed after their sleep apnea has failed to respond to conservative measures and CPAP trials. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to many health problems, including hypertension, stroke, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy (expansion of heart muscle tissue), heart failure, diabetes, obesity and heart attack.

Why sleep apnea should not be ignored?

Sleep apnea is always more likely to cause arrhythmia and heart failure because patients with this disorder have higher blood pressure. If you or your spouse have any signs of sleep apnea, we recommend visiting your doctor as soon as possible. Patients must visit a sleep laboratory to spend the night for monitoring and diagnosis. You will be relieved to know the results, so if you or your family have any signs of sleep apnea, please consult a specialist.

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(Inputs from Dr. Prashant Chhajed, Director-Pulmonology and Sleep Center, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi and Dr. Anshu Punjabi, Consultant-Pulmonologist and Sleep Medicine Expert, Fortis Hospital, Mulund)

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