Sleep Apnea

In the last couple of months I have come across more and more people who are being tested for Sleep Apnea. My father has lived with it for many years now. Before today I didn’t know much about it other than it’s a sleep disorder caused by interrupted breathing. 

Now I know that there are 3 types of sleep apnea. They are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common type and it occurs when the muscles of the throat relax.
  • Centre sleep apnea: This one happens when the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the muscles that control the breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This is when the person suffers from a combination of the other two (3 cheers for the over-achievers out there).

The symptoms of sleep apnea include: loud snoring, episode of stopped breathing, gasping for air during sleep, awaking with dry mouth, morning headache, difficulty staying asleep, daytime sleepiness, and irritability. It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you experience a few of these symptoms. It is a serious medical condition that can result in complications such as: daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, heart problems, Type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and my favourite, a sleep-deprived partner.

Testing for sleep apnea can entail spending a night at a sleep clinic where a sleep specialist monitors your breathing and other body functions through the night. Depending on the results you may end up with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. The air pressure from this machine keeps your upper airway passages open preventing apnea and snoring. While it may seem rather cumbersome, people who have adjusted to wearing it are enjoying the benefits of a good nights rest. There are other devices that can be used if the CPAP doesn’t work. There is also surgery for extreme cases where the other options have failed.

Like with so many health disorders, living a healthy lifestyle is either a first step or a complimentary part of the process to dealing with sleep apnea. Years ago a client lost more than 30 pounds and one of the benefits was that his sleep improved (the symptom of sleep apnea disappeared) to the point where he stopped using the CPAP.  Once again, diet and exercise come to the rescue.

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