WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA??
The term “apnea” means without breath and sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by stopping or pausing breath during sleep. This is not a mild sleep disorder as longer pauses between breaths can lead to fatal consequences. Each pause in breathing spans between ten to twenty seconds or more but these pauses occur more than twenty to thirty times every hour.
Sleep apnea occurs because adequate air is unable to flow in to the lungs through the mouth or nose as one tries to breathe regularly causing a pause in the breathing activity. Normal breathing resumes with a sudden snort or choking sound but the oxygen levels in blood drop every time there is a pause in breathing.
Sleep apnea is broadly classified into two types: Central and Obstructive. Central sleep apnea is caused due to lack of effort in breathing regularly while Obstructive Sleep Apnea is caused due to a physical block in regular breathing despite effort.
If left untreated sleep apnea can cause: hypertension, stroke, irregular heart beat, heart failure or heart attack.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
– Loud snoring
– Dry or parched throat on waking up
– Gasping or choking for breath
– Poor quality of sleep leading to sleepiness during the day
– Memory problems
– Morning headaches
– Relatively higher levels of irritation
– Inability to concentrate for a longer duration
– Depression or mood swings
Causes of Sleep Apnea
The causes and concerns that lead to sleep apnea as a disorder are:
– Inability of the air to flow to the lungs from the mouth or nose due to physical obstruction or lack of effort
– Brief collapsing of the throat causing pauses in breath
– The extra soft tissues in the throat among obese or over weight persons make it difficult to keep the throat area open for circulation of air
– Large tonsils or adenoids may also cause disruption in air flow to the lungs causing pauses in breath
– Hereditary or genetic features of the body such that the shape of the head and neck result in a relatively small airway between the mouth and throat area
Remedies for Sleep Apnea
– Quit smoking and lose weight if a person is overweight
– Avoid alcohol and consumption of sleeping pills
– Change sleep positions to ensure regular breathing
– Tie a ball in socks and tie it across your waist such that you will change your position regularly
– Avoid sleeping on the back and try sleeping laterally
– Conduct polysomnography, a diagnostic test which measures and records a number of physiologic variables during sleep.
Diet for Sleep Apnea
There is no specific diet or particular foods that can help treat or prevent sleep apnea
People with sleep apnea run higher death risk
People with severe sleep apnea face a much higher risk of mortality than ‘normal’ people, which increases when the condition is untreated.
Results show that people who have severe sleep apnea, which involves breathing pauses during sleep, have three times the risk of dying due to any cause compared with people who do not have sleep apnea.
This risk is represented by an adjusted hazard ratio of 3.2 after controlling for age, sex and body mass index. When 126 participants who reported regular use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy were removed from the statistical analysis, the hazard ratio for all-cause mortality related to severe sleep apnea rose to 4.3