Desperately Seeking Slumber

An alarming health issue that literally lurks in your sleep has been getting more attention lately and with good reason. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which a person may stop breathing more than 50 times per hour and it can target anyone, at any age — and it can affect your brain in all aspects of your life.

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According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have Obstructed Sleep Apnea (OSA). The number of reported sleep apnea cases is probably under-reported, however, since some folks either don’t report the condition or are unaware they have it.

OSA happens when your tongue, tonsils or other tissues in the back of the throat block your airway. When you try to breathe in, the air can’t get through. There is also a similar condition called Central Sleep Apnea, when the brain doesn’t always signal the body to breathe when it should. This is less common than OSA.

If you lead a relatively healthy lifestyle but you are diagnosed with concerning issues that don’t add up, you may want to check if you have some of the symptoms below:

– Chronic loud snoring

– Disturbed sleep

– Excessive daytime drowsiness

– Wake up with a headache (and didn’t drink alcohol the night before)

– Several nighttime trips to the bathroom

– Irritable or mood changes

– Weight gain for no apparent reason

– Bed wetting for a child

Many people don’t think of snoring as a sign of something potentially dangerous, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. The difference can be if you experience loud snoring, especially snoring that’s interrupted by periods of silence. Folks with the condition may stop breathing up to 400 times throughout the night, with pauses lasting 10-30 seconds, followed by a snort when breathing starts again. This breaks the sleep cycle and can leave you tired during the day. All those breaks in sleep take a massive toll on your body and mind. When the condition goes untreated, it has been linked to:

– High blood pressure

– Diabetes

– Heart attack

– Congestive heart failure

– Cardiac arrhythmia

– Stroke

– Depression

– Low libido

– Car accidents

Once diagnosed with OSA there are several treatment options available. So far, data shows the most common treatment for moderate to severe OSA is use of the continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP). It’s a machine that blows a steady stream of air into your airway. The flow is adjusted until it’s strong enough to keep your airway open while you sleep. Bright side — research has also proven continuous use of the CPAP reduces high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

For further information or to get tested for OSA,  please contact your physician. To check on your physician’s medical license, visit the Medical Board of California’s website at www.mbc.ca.gov or click HERE.

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