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Sleep Apnea Causes and Treatments

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According to the National Institute of Health, sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that is marked by interruptions of breathing during sleep. The possibilities of serious health risks occur for people who are either untreated or without an effective treatment.

Sleep apnea affects around 18 million Americans. It is twice as common in men than in women and one in 50 Americans is undiagnosed, which could lead to an increase in heart disease (three times the risk) and stroke (four times the risk). Associated symptoms of sleep apnea include restless sleep, morning headaches, mood or behavior changes, and depression.

The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In this case, the relaxation of tissue at the back of the throat blocks the passage of air. Another type is central sleep apnea (CSA). This is caused by irregularities in the brain’s normal signals to breathe.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can be life-threatening. Here are some treatment methods.

Lifestyle Changes

Someone with sleep apnea may be asked to make some lifestyle changes. These can include avoiding alcohol and sedatives, losing weight, or quitting smoking. These methods can ease the body’s respiratory system, enabling for more effective breathing.

Bed and Pillows

Another option is to trade the old pillow and bed for those that may induce better sleep. Some pillows even go as far as to keep someone with sleep apnea from sleeping on their back, which can be a major source of the breathing interruptions.

The Sleep Apnea Machine

A sleep apnea machine is generally a machine that uses a machine that sends air through a tube to a mask, which keeps airways open. The most common sleep apnea machine is a continuous positive airway pressure machine (also called a CPAP machine).

When prescribed a CPAP machine, it is important to understand the different components, such as the CPAP mask and the CPAP settings, before using. Then to use them as prescribed. Studies suggest that up to half of the people prescribed CPAP machines stop using them within one to three weeks and that 80% don’t use their CPAP machine enough to keep them safe.

One of the options to consider when purchasing a CPAP machine is the type of mask you would like to have. There are many different options, with some being a full face CPAP mask while others being a more basic CPAP mask pillow. The options are designed for patients to find ones they are comfortable with.

According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, approximately 38,000 deaths occur annually due to cardiovascular problems related to sleep apnea. It can be a terrifying experience to wake up in the middle of the night struggling for breath and draining if it happens over the entire night.

Loss of sleep and productivity, increased agitation and irritation, and mood changes can all happen when sleep apnea becomes a major force in your life. A doctor may be able to help.

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