Sleep Apnea is a disorder that affects more than 12 million people in the United States. What's known is that the site of obstruction in most patients is the soft palate, including the area at the base of the tongue. |
Sleep Apnea is a disorder that commonly affects more than 12 million people in the United States. While the exact cause of remains unclear, what's known is that the site of obstruction in most patients is the soft palate, including the area at the base of the tongue.
During the day, muscles in the region keep the passage open and clear; but since there's no bone or cartilage in this area to hold the airway open, when a person with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) falls asleep, the muscles relax and the airway collapses.
Besides interrupting sleep and causing disorientation and "fogginess" during the waking hours, the dangers to overall health are many.
The primary risk factors for OSA are:
Excessive Weight - The accumulation of fat on the sides of the upper airway cause it to become narrow and predisposed to closure when the muscles relax.
Age - Loss of muscle mass is a common consequence of the aging process, leaving the airway narrow and soft. Men have a greater risk for OSA.
Male Hormones - Testosterone can cause structural changes in the upper airway.
Other risk factors include: A receding chin ... Enlarged tonsils and adenoids ... Use of drugs that affect the Central Nervous System (CNS) such as alcohol, tranquilizers, etc. ... Smoking ... Chronic nasal congestion ... and several syndromes such as hypothyroidism, post-polio syndrome, neuromuscular disorders, Marfan's syndrome, and Down syndrome, to name a few. Although to date there is no hard data to confirm this theory, it's also believed that there's a genetic factor involved.
The signs and symptoms of OSA are many and varied and many are not overtly medical. (For example, non-restorative sleep leads to such things as car accidents, bad moods, memory problems, depression and even impotence.)
Some common signs that you may have OSA are:
Loud Snoring - This is perhaps the most common sign that a person's airway is obstructed, and the complaint that initially brings many undiagnosed OSA patients to their doctors for help. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but if other signs are present, as well, it's a distinct possibility.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness - Some people with OSA fall asleep while reading or watching TV. Others experience powerful urges to doze off even in a stimulating environment, such as while driving or during business meetings - even while having sex!
Unrefreshing Sleep - Many OSA patients complain of waking up feeling as if they had been awake all night (usually, they have been, in fact). Then, if they try to refresh themselves with a nap, they usually feel worse after napping than they did before.
Drowsiness While Driving - Statistics show that many car accidents are caused by drivers either nodding off at the wheel or else being too sleepy to be alert.
Morning Headaches - Frequent, unexplained headaches are a common sign of OSA.
Frequent Nighttime Urination - Getting up to use the bathroom several times a night may be caused by an apneic event.
If your doctor does diagnose OSA, then you'll be relieved to know that a CPAP sleep apnea machine will give you relief and protection as soon as you start using it.
** About the author text: Don't spend one more night at risk from the frustrating, annoying side effects - and very real dangers of Sleep Apnea! A CPAP sleep apnea machine from Kelly's Medical will put your body and your mind at ease. Kelly's Medical, http://www.kellysmedical.com/, is fully stocked with a complete line of home health care equipment.
** About the author HTML: Don't spend one more night at risk from the frustrating, annoying side effects - and very real dangers of Sleep Apnea! A CPAP sleep apnea machine from Kelly's Medical will put your body and your mind at ease. Kelly's Medical, http://www.kellysmedical.com/, is fully stocked with a complete line of home health care equipment.
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