Sleep Disorders, Sleep Remedies & Insomnia Relief


Sleep Apnea - Causes and Treatments

For most individuals the inability to get a good night's rest is covered under the umbrella description of 'insomnia'. It is the inability - whether short or long term - to get a good night's sleep. The cause may be external or internal. With thoughtful analysis and some behavioral changes an individual may be able to find a solution that works for them. But others may be suffering from disorders that require more focused and serious attention.

One of these disorders is sleep apnea. Most people are acquainted with this term that refers to the fact that while an individual is sleeping their breathing gets interrupted. Either it gets very shallow or it stops altogether from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. They then wake up with a gasp, sometimes as though they are choking for air, and more often than not, fall asleep again. In chronic cases this can happen dozens of times each hour during their sleep and they may not be aware of it at all. Aside from feeling unrefreshed from the sleep they may also experience headaches, a dry mouth and a sore throat.

'Obstructive sleep apnea' is the most common type and it means that not enough air can get through the mouth and nose into the lungs. As a consequence there is not enough oxygen flowing in the blood. In severe cases this lack of oxygen can result in learning and memory problems, high blood pressure and even heart disease. It is a condition that can be very serious - even life threatening - and needs to be addressed with the help of a doctor.

If you are suspicious that this may be the problem you can have your mate watch and record the interruptions in your sleep or use a tape recorder to get an idea how often it occurs during the night. This, along with an exam by the doctor who will look at your throat and mouth for signs of obstruction will help confirm your case. A doctor may also order CT scans and x-rays to further examine the head and neck areas.

If the sleep apnea is minor over all it may be that a few simple measures will correct the situation. It is suggested that the person lose weight if it is an issue, try sleeping on their side, avoiding sedatives and alcohol and keeping as regular a sleep routine as possible.

In severe cases some people find it necessary to wear a mask device that supplies pressurized air through their airways - keeping them open. These work well but not all people are comfortable with them. Another option for moderate apnea are acrylic oral devices that fit into the mouth and bring the lower jaw and tongue forward and help keep the airway passages open during sleep. Again, not everyone is able to adjust to these.

Finally, it may be that surgery is suggested. In this case the doctor may remove excess tissue, adenoids or tonsils to open up the airways. This may prove to be a solution for some but as with any surgery there is always the risk of some complications and in rare cases it has happened that the situation has been worsened. So it may be that an individual will want to exhaust all other avenues before resorting to this last solution. Ultimately, a good line of communication between doctor and patient is essential. With time and effort this condition may be brought under control.

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