Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects at least 18 million people in the United States. Sleep apnea is a disorder where the sufferer stops breathing during the night when they are asleep. The periods of times when they are not breathing are called “apneas.” These apneas can last for a few seconds or last for more than a minute. These can occur frequently throughout the night. Some sufferers experience as many as 60 apneas an hour every night. Many people are given various apparatus, such as a mouthpiece for sleep apnea, to keep the airway open and prevent the apneas from occurring at all.
The problem is that many people go untreated because they are not diagnosed with it. This can be very dangerous. Recently, the results of an 18 year study of people with untreated sleep apnea that was severe were released. The study reveled that people who have severe sleep apnea that is not treated have a death rate that is more than five times greater than people who do not have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea disorders have been shown to be connected with an increase in heart disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Another complication is sleepiness during the day. This is because when people stop breathing, it often wakes them up for a few seconds. When they have many apneas throughout the night, they do not get vert good sleep and as a consequence, people with this disorder have a chance that is six times greater than non-sufferers from dying in a car crash.
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. For adult sufferers, the cause of most obstructive sleep apnea is being overweight or obese. This impacts the soft tissue in the throat and mouth. When the tongue and throat muscles relax, the throat and mouth tissue can obstruct the airway, causing the person to stop breathing. There are also other factors that contribute to the development of sleep apnea. The sleep apnea causes in children are different. Theirs are often caused by problems with the tonsils or adenoids. Treating sleep apnea in kids is not the leading cause of tonsillectomies in the United States. Another treatment for the disorder is to use a mouthpiece for sleep apnea or other sleep apnea devices.
If you have sleep apnea, there are a few things you can do to help it.
- Avoid sleeping on your back. Gravity is not your friend if you suffer from sleep apnea. It is easier for your airway to collapse when you are flat on your back. People who suffer from this sleep disorder should try to sleep on their side when they go to sleep.
- Get to a more healthy weight. After using a mouthpiece for sleep apnea, the best thing you can do to help your sleep apnea is to lose some weight. Being overweight or obese is a major factor that contributes to sleep apnea. Some experts say that when you lose 10% of your body weight, you can lessen the problems you experience with sleep apnea by 30%. This will greatly improve the quality of your sleep.
- Cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink. Many sleep disorders are made worse by the consumption of alcohol. People often think that drinking alcohol will help them sleep but it prevents people from getting to the restful stage of sleep. There are some medications that can also hurt the quality of your sleep and worsen sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
- Pay attention to any drowsiness you experience during the day. Often the only real symptom people notice when they have sleep apnea is that they are extremely drowsy during the day. If you experience this, you should talk to your doctor about arranging for some tests for sleep apnea. They can then prescribe the right mouthpiece for sleep apnea or other devices to help you with the condition.
Sleep apnea is a very scary disorder for a number of reasons. Many people with it have no idea unless they are told by their partner. This is the reason any daytime drowsiness is such an important symptom that should never be ignored.