Published On: Wed, Oct 26th, 2016

More than sleep robbery: Health issues of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Grave health issues such as depression, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and even heart attack could just be a result of lack of proper sleep because of sleep apnea according to experts.

Sleep disorders are now easily treated with medical devices such as Resmed masks and other therapies, yet most people either shun these or even worse, don’t know that they are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, shrugging it off as mere snoring.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea according to experts

Sleep Apnea, according to World Health Organization (WHO), is a sleeping disorder characterized by frequent and ongoing pauses in breathing when asleep typically accompanied by loud snoring. These pauses cut off the body’s oxygen supply for a few seconds while halting the removal of carbon dioxide. The effect is waking up briefly to re-open the airways and start breathing again.

This occurs many times every night (or whenever a sufferer sleeps) and makes proper sleep impossible and lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, headaches or difficulty in focusing, white at night, snoring is a common occurrence.

photo/ YouTube screenshot

photo/ YouTube screenshot

The danger of undiagnosed OSA

Undiagnosed, OSA can lead to serious consequences – even leading to death. Still, many sufferers think they are getting enough sleep hours or, after many years, accustomed to poor sleep. Because many people with sleep apnea are tend to be overweight, the symptoms can easily be ignored or misdiagnosed.

Other symptoms, like lack of focus, fatigue, apathy and irritability are typical. Antidepressants are more likely to be prescribed than a sleep test. Recent researches found out that women are especially under-diagnosed with sleep apnea. However, based on the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, men are approximately twice as likely to have sleep apnea.

Various causes

Most sleep disorders are genetic or caused by anatomy, but external factors such as weight and stress also play a large role. Doctors most commonly prescribe sleep aids than sleep disorder testing, which leads to subsequent need for medical devices like Resmed masks or other types of therapy necessary to treat sleep apnea.

Sleeping pills will put you to sleep, but they won’t do anything about the quality of sleep. For people with sleep disorders, if anything, sleeping pills will just mask the cause of symptoms, such as fatigue and insomnia and do absolutely nothing for issues including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Testing and treatment. Overnight sleep testing as well as sleep centers are accessible, wherein both are part of current medical providers and hospitals and as standalone service providers. Suspected sufferers are tested overnight, either in a monitored room in a lab or at home, which is cheaper.

There are plentiful of hospital and clinics that specialize or have general knowledge to diagnose and provide treatment for sleep apnea. The treatment of choice is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) that comes with a mask like Resmed masks that fits over the nose and mouth, gently blowing air into the airway to aid its opening during sleep. It is a very effective treatment. Other types of alternative treatments include:

  • Lifestyle changes (losing weight, sleeping at the same time every time, eating well, etc.)
  • Medicine to help you stay awake during the day, so you have better sleep during nighttime.
  • Herbal sleep remedies (natural sleep treatments)
  • Surgery (consult your doctor)

It is necessary to consult a doctor or sleep specialist before trying out any type of treatment.

Author: Ian Tolledo

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