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What Is Sleep Apnea

What Is Sleep Apnea?

What Is Sleep Apnea

If you’re constantly plagued by loud snoring and you frequently find yourself tired and sluggish throughout the day, this might not be just a simple case of snoring.  You might have a condition called sleep apnea.  This condition has become more common and is actually considered a health problem.

Sleep apnea happens when the breathing passageways are blocked while you’re asleep or when the brain momentarily fails to function and pauses breathing.  This leads to breaks in your breathing which results in snoring.  It’s more recognizable as sudden quiet or a gasping sound and then audible sounds of gulping for air, and this happens repeatedly while you’re sleeping.

Who are more likely to develop sleep apnea?

Males have a higher tendency to suffer from sleep apnea compared to women.  Those who are obese and overweight are also at risk.  Age is another factor specifically for those who are at least 40 years old.  If you were born with a narrow throat or enlarged tonsils, this could also lead to sleep apnea especially for children.  Another consideration is your family history.  If any of your family members have sleep apnea, you may inherit the condition as well.  Aside from these, any breathing problems involving the nasal airways can make you prone to the condition.

What are the symptoms?

The top indication of sleep apnea is loud, persistent snoring.  There are also gaps of soundlessness in the snores followed by sudden gulps for breath.  It’s important to note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.  However, a combination of these next symptoms together with the snoring is likely to be sleep apnea.  You might wake up with headaches, and/ or a dry mouth.  During the day, you may also be prone to memory problems, performance issues at work and chronic sleepiness.

What are the types and causes of each?

Sleep apnea has two main types:  Obstructive and Central.  In obstructive sleep apnea, the tissue in the rear area of the throat loosens while you’re sleeping and obstructs completely or partly the breathing passageways.  The less common form is central sleep apnea, which happens due to an error in the brain.  The brain temporarily neglects to let the body breathe.  This is more likely to happen among people who have had trauma to the brain or suffer from conditions in the cardiac or respiratory system.

What are the possible health risks?

Aside from affecting performance and daily activities, if sleep apnea is not treated, it may progress or contribute to worse health issues.  Some patients with sleep apnea are likely to have hypertension and heart problems.  A number of them also have a tendency for diabetes as well as depression.

What home care methods can you try?

For mild to moderate sleep apnea, you may adopt some modifications to your lifestyle to help you cope.  Change your diet and exercise more in order to lose the excess pounds.  Aim for a healthier lifestyle by limiting your smoking and alcohol intake.  Your sleep quality will also greatly improve with a different sleeping position.  Sleeping on your side, for example, is better than sleeping on your back.

What are the treatment options?

In moderate to severe cases, different forms of therapy may be needed.  Machines or devices such as the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) may be recommended by your doctor.  If all the other treatment methods and lifestyle changes are not effective, surgery is the last option.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes a person to have pauses in their breathing or have shallow breaths during sleep. These breathing pauses can last up to a few minutes, and may occur several times in an hour. Normal breathing starts again afterwards, but usually comes with a choking sound or a loud snort. This chronic condition can disrupt your sleep, which means the quality of your sleep time becomes poor. Below are several treatments plans used on patients with sleep apnea.

Treatment plan when you have other health issues

You may need to be treated first for other health problems before proceeding to your sleep apnea therapy. For example:

  • You have a nasal passage inflammation that may require the use of a nasal spray
  • You have hypothyroidism that may require you to take thyroid medications

The doctor may also recommend treatment for issues that are triggered by sleep apnea, including high blood pressure.

Oral breathing devices

Oral breathing devices will reposition your jaw and tongue during sleep. They will open up your airways to normalize your breathing pattern. These devices may be used on people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, or those with severe condition but were not satisfied with the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. An oral breathing device will require a dentist to fit it in your mouth to make sure it works properly.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP

The CPAP machine is almost always the first device used to treat sleep apnea. It is a breathing device that helps prevent your airways from closing as you sleep. Studies show that this machine reduces daytime sleepiness, and lowers blood pressure (both daytime and nighttime). If you are still feeling sleepy during the day despite using a CPAP machine, make sure to tell your doctor.

It may take time for you to become comfortable with this device. There may be times when you want to take off the mask, or find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Your doctor might adjust the device or ask you to try another type of mask, in case you are having difficulty adjusting to it.

Some CPAP machines adjust air pressure automatically when you breathe in or out. These models are easier and more convenient for some patients. If you use this device for sleep apnea, then you will need to use it every night or the symptoms might return.

Positional therapy

There are people who get sleep apnea only when they sleep on their back. These people can reduce or get rid of the airway blockage by learning to sleep on their side. One traditional method to encourage side-sleeping is placing a tennis ball in a sock, and pinning it to the back of your pajama top.

Many companies offer specially-designed products to prevent supine sleeping. This type of therapy works only in mild cases. In more severe conditions, the airway will collapse, regardless of the patient’s sleeping position.

Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) treatment

Some patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) cannot use the CPAP machine for their treatment, despite the best efforts. There is, however, a new way for people with moderate to severe OSA who cannot use the CPAP device. The UAS therapy works inside the body, as well as your natural breathing, to treat the more severe cases of sleep apnea.

You might need this treatment if:

  • You have been diagnosed with OSA
  • You cannot find relief in CPAP therapy

This method consists of three components: a breathing sensor lead, a small generator, and a stimulation lead. All of these are controlled by the remote control. Your doctor, however, will still assess your overall health, and airway anatomy to see if this therapy is for you.

Nasal dilators

Your doctor may recommend a nasal dilator, which can come in the form of disks or strips, to help maintain open airways as you sleep. The nose strips will widen your nostrils, while the disks come with a valve that makes it difficult for you to breathe out. You can get one of these devices without prescription, but it is still recommended that you consult a pharmacist or your doctor about your options.

Weight loss

Majority of patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea are obese or overweight. There may be few studies on how weight loss improves snoring and sleep apnea, but practitioners report significant improvements in patients who lose weight.

Surgery

Surgery is another way of treating snoring, but is less effective in treating OSA. The surgeon will determine which part of the upper airway is obstructing the airflow. If the surgeon is not able to treat the site, or if there are multiple obstruction sites, it is unlikely that the condition will be reduced to an extent where further treatments will no longer be necessary.

There are several procedures currently used to treat sleep apnea. The most common procedure is the uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), but the success rate is only 50 percent. There are surgeons who achieved high success rates through multiple-staged operations. However, most authorities still recommend post-surgery re-assessment.

Caution

Snoring can be an early warning that indicates the possible presence of sleep apnea. Treating snoring can eliminate this sign, but there may be unwanted consequences. When the symptom is removed, there is a possibility that sleep apnea will be discovered when it is already too late. This is why, when surgery or oral devices are used to remove snoring, it is crucial to regularly check for sleep apnea afterwards.

What Is Narcolepsy

What is Narcolepsy?

What Is Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder where the brain is unable to regulate a person’s sleep-wake pattern. This medical condition affects about 0.05 percent of the world’s population, or roughly one in every 2000 people.

Symptoms

There are four symptoms to watch out:

  • Excessive sleepiness during daytime – This is the first symptom to appear, and the need to sleep happens at times when the patient wants to stay awake, despite having adequate sleep.
  • Hypnopompic or Hypnagogic hallucinations – The patient experiences vivid and frightening sounds and dreams before sleeping or waking up. Many Narcolepsy patients report such occurrences.
  • Cataplexy – Sudden loss of muscle control. This brief occurrence range from slight muscle weakness to complete collapse.
  • Sleep paralysis – This refers to the inability to move or talk for a brief period right before waking up or falling asleep.

Narcolepsy is deemed to be a neurological disorder of the normal boundaries between the states of waking and sleeping. Patients with this condition do not sleep normally within the 24-hour period, and their nighttime sleep is often interrupted by leg jerking, tossing and turning, frequent awakenings, and nightmares.

What triggers narcolepsy?

The cause has not been fully-understood yet, but researchers found that genes have something to do with this issue. The discovered that the likelihood of having narcolepsy increases when you have the HLADQB1*0602 genetic makeup. Some rare medical problems may mimic narcolepsy symptoms, which is why a thorough medical assessment is strongly recommended.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will make the diagnosis based on the symptoms. Further investigation and physical examination are necessary to exclude other medical conditions, and to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

Currently, there is no treatment that can cure narcolepsy. Your physician will prescribe medications as the first line of defence to combat the symptoms. The treatment plan normally includes helping patients develop alertness, and behavioural strategies. Stimulants and antidepressants may be prescribed. The good news is that patients diagnosed (and medically-treated) with narcolepsy have the same road accident risk as the general public.

Behavioral changes: what to expect

Patients are treated to develop the following behavioural changes:

  • Healthy sleep hygiene (getting adequate sleep, avoiding caffeine later in the day, ditching vices, avoiding shift work, preventing use of bed during waking hours, and exercising regularly)
  • Avoiding certain medications, like sedating antihistamines, that may worsen the symptoms
  • Depending on the patient, short daily naps may be recommended, along with drug treatment.
  • Developing strategies to manage symptoms

Joining a support group

What is Restless Leg Syndrome

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

What is Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is described as the creeping sensations in the legs, and is usually accompanied by an intense desire to move them. The symptoms are worse during rest, and often occur in the evening. The sensations may worsen as the night progresses, which is why patients suffering from this condition may experience difficulty getting a good night’s sleep.

RLS and PLMS

Periodic Limb Movements (PLM) and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) are distinct conditions, and may occur together and treated in the same manner. They typically affect the older adults, and may be associated with underlying conditions like kidney disease or diabetes. PLMS involves frequent rhythmic leg and feet movements during sleep, and people who suffer from it may feel tired due to the sleep disruption caused by it.

Who gets the Restless Leg Syndrome?

Nobody knows the exact cause of the RLS yet, but recent studies show that patients with this condition have issues with dopamine, a brain chemical, as well as a decline in iron level in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain that controls movements. Dopamine works by regulating the messages sent to the brain cells, and iron is crucial in the formation of L-dopa, which is dopamine’s precursor.

Do you have RLS?

RLS affects about five to 15 percent of the population. It is a chronic disorder that may start at any age, but the symptoms become more noticeable in the late 40s. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, then you may have RLS with or without PLM during sleep:

  • Irresistible urge to move the legs, with unpleasant sensations like creeping or tingling
  • The urge arises or worsens at rest, especially at night
  • Partial or complete relief with movement, like stretching or walking
  • Twitching or involuntary kicking in sleep

The condition is diagnosed based on these symptoms. Associated factors should be removed or treated in all patients as this may eliminate or reduce the symptoms.

RSL and sleep

RLS patients may experience varying levels of leg discomfort during the day. Some may even have experience issues with their focus and memory. Many of them, however, are affected most at bedtime as the urge and sensations worsen during inactivity.

Consequently, a lot of patients find it hard to sleep at night because of the worsening symptoms. It is not unusual for them to get up to move around until the symptoms disappear or are partially relieved.

What is Sleepwalking and Sleep Terrors

What is Sleepwalking and Sleep Terrors?

What is Sleepwalking and Sleep Terrors

Sleep walking and terrors are abnormal sleep behaviours or movements. They are relatively common in children as well as young adults, but will get better with age. In severe cases, however, further assessment and treatment may be necessary. These conditions are less common in adults.

Symptoms

This condition normally manifests as continuous violent movements during deep sleep (REM). It can sometimes hurt both the person and their bed partner. The patients often know that they have been dreaming when the violent movements occur. This disorder normally shows up later in life, with some patients even developing Parkinson’s disease.

Sleep terrors start in children, between ages three and 12. They normally stop during adolescence. The terrors in adults most commonly occur between ages 20 and 30, but the severity and frequency vary from person to person.

Meanwhile, studies show that sleepwalking occurs frequently in 3 out of 100 children, while only seldom for approximately five in 100. Three or four in 100 adults reported having sleepwalked at least once in their lives, and four in 1000 are still sleepwalking.

Diagnosis and treatment

A sleep study may be needed to exclude other sleep disorders that may seem similar to sleepwalking or sleep terrors. The treatment plan typically involves taking certain medications that are usually effective.

Natural Remedies For Better Sleep

10 Natural Remedies For Better Sleep

Natural Remedies For Better Sleep

As our modern world progresses, we also get busier and more stressed leading to sleep deprivation. There are several causes of insomnia and other sleep problems. To have better quality sleep, many people turn to medication such as sedatives and tranquilizers. However, there are healthier alternatives that don’t produce side effects.

Best Natural Remedies For Sleep

1. Use lavender essential oil

The therapeutic effects of essential oils like lavender are well-known. Lavender not only uplifts your mood, it also helps your mind and body relax and unwind, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly. Place some lavender in a vaporizer inside your bedroom or keep a sachet of lavender scent beneath your pillow.

2. Try catnip tea

A useful herb that can help induce drowsiness, in humans, that is, is catnip. This fragrant plant aids in easing your body to sleep. Stir a couple of teaspoons of catnip leaves into a cup of boiling water and let it soak for a few minutes. You may sweeten your drink with some honey.

3. Get enough magnesium

Magnesium is often underappreciated as a mineral and as a result, many of us are magnesium-deficient. However, it’s one of the vital minerals needed for helping to relax the nerves and keep the nervous system in balance, which in turn, prepares the body for sleep. Take magnesium supplements or eat more foods high in magnesium like bananas.

4. Supplement with valerian

Another herb utilized in soothing the body and senses is valerian. It’s been used as well as a natural treatment for anxiety and depression. Some people drink valerian tea from valerian leaves immersed in hot water but others prefer to take supplements because of its strong aroma.

5. Avoid using gadgets at bedtime and in the bedroom

Studies show that the light coming from the TV, smartphone, laptop and other technological devices interrupts our sleep cycle and affect our body’s production of the sleep hormone. To create an environment conducive to improved sleep quality, don’t use your phone and other gadgets inside the bedroom.

6. Drink chamomile tea

One of the most popular natural sleep aids is chamomile tea. This is because chamomile has a tranquilizing effect on the body. It lulls the body into a state of sleepiness. People also choose chamomile over other herbs and oils because of its mild fragrance and pleasant flavor.

7. Get some exercise during the day

For some people, their best time to exercise is during the day and not before sleeping as they get too keyed up to sleep. For others, they fall asleep faster when tired after a workout. Regardless, regular exercise keeps your body generally healthy and promotes better quality sleep.

8. Establish a bedtime routine

Form good habits so that your body gets used to sleeping at a certain schedule. Take a shower, drink your favorite tea, and meditate or pray. These are all behaviors that will help your body wind down at the end of the day and allow it to expect sleep.

9. Cut down on caffeine

If you frequently drink too much caffeine or alcohol or eat too many sugary snacks at night, these substances can disrupt the balance in your body. It’s time to minimize consuming these drinks and sweets in order to improve your health.

10. Keep the bedroom cool

A bedroom with a higher temperature will keep its occupants feeling hot and uncomfortable. The body generates less melatonin, the hormone for sleep, when it’s too hot so make sure that your room is cool or well-ventilated.