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Sleep Apnea in Five Minutes or Less

I want to talk today about a very serious and common disease that affects an estimated number of 20 million Americans – Sleep Apnea. That’s just as prevalent as asthma or diabetes. Now, I’m not a doctor, but for advice on this topic, I’ve turned to Helena Ederveen, our Official Guide to Health Education. Helena is a Clinical Nutritionist and specializes in snoring remedies.

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. Many people don’t think of snoring as a sign of something potentially serious, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

1. Snoring loud enough to disturb the sleep of others or yourself
2. Shortness of breath that awakens you from sleep
3. Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep
4. Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you’re working, watching television or even driving

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional. You’ll have to go through a process known as a “sleep study,” but the results can determine the type of sleep apnea you are experiencing and how to treat it.

Sleep apnea occurs in two main types: obstructive sleep apnea, is the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax and become obstructed. The risk of OSA rises with increasing body weight, active smoking and age. In addition, patients with diabetes or “borderline” diabetes have up to three times the risk of having OSA.

Some treatments involve lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol or muscle relaxants, losing weight, and quitting smoking. Many people benefit from sleeping at a 30-degree elevation of the upper body or higher, as if in a recliner. Doing so helps prevent the gravitational collapse of the airway. Sleeping on your side rather than flat on your back is also recommended as a treatment for sleep apnea, largely because the gravitational component is smaller in the lateral position.

The other main type of sleep apnea is Central sleep apnea, in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep due to lack of respiratory effort. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, in which you can’t breathe because of upper airway obstruction, central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.

In central sleep apnea, your body misses out on cycles of breathing. The sudden drop in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. These changes raise the risk of heart failure and stroke. Central sleep apnea is less common, accounting for less than 5 percent of sleep apneas.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Some people with sleep apnea have a combination of both types. When obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is severe and longstanding, episodes of central apnea sometimes develop.

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device, commonly known as a “Breathing Machine.” This device keeps the airway open during sleep by means of a flow of pressurized air into the throat. Patients diagnosed with sleep apnea can have corrective surgery to fix their airways as well, but those solutions are primarily for extreme cases. Milder cases of sleep apnea can be treated with the use of a specially shaped pillow.

There are also holistic approaches to preventing against sleep apnea as well. You can learn more about these approaches, by visiting Helena’s website. We have a link to the left of the video.

Now for our question – Do you suffer from sleep apnea, or do you know someone who does? Let us know your experiences and how you are handling this disorder. The more knowledge and experience we share, the better.

Thanks for watching, and I look forward to your comments!

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