Monday, February 05, 2007

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea (apnea is a Latin word meaning "without breath") is a serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops long enough during sleep to decrease the amount of oxygen and increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood and brain. There are three types of sleep but the most common is called obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during you sleep due to the obstruction and collapse of the upper airway (throat), usually accompanied by a reduction in blood oxygen saturation, and followed by an awakening to breathe. It most commonly occurs in obese people who tend to sleep on their backs. Obesity, in combination with the aging body tissues and other factors lead to narrowing of the upper airway.

Symptoms of Obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Loud and frequent snoring, periodic breathing cessation and gasping during sleep.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
  • Grogginess, dullness, morning headaches, severe dryness of the mouth upon awakening.

To help prevent Obstructive sleep apnea, it is recommended that:

  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Not drinking alcohol excessively
  • Avoiding sleeping aides
  • Sleeping on one's side or elevating the head of the bed.



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