Getting a good night’s sleep is needed not only to remove dark circles but to improve your overall health as well. Ideally, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. This helps you stay physically and mentally healthy. However, getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, as sleep apnea is one of the factors that could affect the quality of your sleep. This can cause a number of health issues including heart disease.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that can make your breathing start and stop repeatedly while you are asleep. These pauses can range from 5 times an hour to 30 times in one hour. Waking up tired after a long sleep and snoring are characteristic symptoms of this condition. This can be annoying for others, but for you, it could be life-threatening. When your breathing stops; your airways get blocked.
This is characteristic of obstructive sleep apnea, as every time this happens, you wake up. This can increase the risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure, in turn, can cause arrhythmia, heart failure, and strokes. This can increase the risk of a fatal heart attack by up to 5 times.
Reducing your risk of heart disease caused by sleep apnea
There are ways to treat sleep apnea so as to reduce the chances of heart diseases. To treat it, it must first be diagnosed. Thus, if your roommate notices you snoring, consult a doctor immediately. For a diagnosis, you will need to undergo a sleep study. This involves staying overnight in the hospital where they will monitor your sleep. Treatment for sleep apnea is known as continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP.
This form of treatment involves wearing a mask that regulates the air pressure as you breathe thus ensuring that the air passages do not close down. In case of obstructive sleep apnea, losing weight if you are obese, can also help treat the condition and keep the airways open.
Snoring is something that not only spoils the sleep of your partner but leaves you embarrassed while travelling or any family gatherings. It is more popular among males but these days, women are also facing this issue. The problem only worsens with age and weight. On the other hand, the person suffering from Sleep Apnoea not only affects his and his partner's sleep but puts his life at risk.
Difference Between Sleep Apnoea And Snoring:
There is a huge difference between just Snorers and those suffering from Sleep Apnoea. Sleep Apnoea almost always results in frequent and loud snoring, while disturbing the breathing pattern. This leads the person suffering from Sleep Apnoea to feel tired even after long sleeping hours.
While Sleep Apnoea will almost always lead to loud snoring, snoring alone does not mean that one is suffering from Sleep Apnoea.
Causes And Symptoms
● When a person sleeps, the throat muscles relax and the tongue bends backwards. This narrows down the throat to some extent.
● As the person keeps inhaling and exhaling, the throat muscles vibrate. These vibrations lead to snoring. The narrower the throat becomes, the more are the vibrations and the sound.
● The throat muscles tend to relax more with age. This is why snoring usually increases with age.
● If a person has obstructions in the form of Tonsils, Nasal polyps or Deviated nasal septum, the narrowing gets worse and leads to extensive snoring.
● If there is an inflammation in the throat or nose due to some infection or allergy, the throat may become narrower and result in loud snoring.
● In some people, sleeping positions like sleeping on the back or otherwise may abate snoring.
● Alcohol consumption during evening time may abate throat muscle relaxation and give rise to snoring.
● It is better described as episodes of pauses in breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time.
● The immediate cause of Sleep Apnoea is extensive narrowing or complete collapse of the upper airway.
● As breathing is paused temporarily, it causes a shortfall of Oxygen in blood. As it happens, the heart works harder to make up for it, even when the person is sleeping. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
● It causes disturbance in the natural sleep cycle.
● Avoidance of risk factors like various allergies
● Correction of sleeping position with training
● The most common treatment is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). This is a mask like device worn on the nose before sleep. It keeps the upper airway open with a small positive pressure delivered.
● There is also the option of Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. This is a surgical intervention to remove excess of soft palate tissue and open up the airway. The remaining tissue becomes stiff and thus minimize vibration.
● If there is a Tonsil or Deviated Nasal Septum or Nasal Polyp, it needs to be resected out in order to minimize obstruction to the airway.
Snoring and Sleep Apnoea are very common issues and can be treated by experienced doctors very easily.
Ways to diagnose snoring and sleep apnoea:
The doctors ask about the allergies you are suffering from, as well as your eating patterns, medicines and drinking and smoking habits. The doctor also examines your throat and nasal passages to ascertain if there are any kind of nasal, dental, mouth jaw, or throat deformities that are triggering your snoring. If your doctor will feel that you may be suffering from sleep apnoea, then your partner may be asked to keep a diary noting your sleeping and snoring patterns.
Polysomnography and CPAP Titration are some other ways through which the doctors diagnose sleep apnoea.
Polysomnography: Polysomnography, also called a sleep study, is a type of test that is conducted to diagnose sleep disorders. In this test, the doctors record the brain waves, the oxygen level in the blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements of the patient.
CPAP Titration: A CPAP titration study is a type of in-lab sleep study that is carried out to calibrate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It is a common treatment that is used to manage sleep-related breathing disorders including obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and hypoventilation and hypoxemia.
In case you find out that you are suffering from snoring or sleep apnoea, you should immediately visit a pulmonologist to get the proper treatment.
When there are vibrations in the top airways of the respiratory system because of obstruction to the air movement during the time of sleep, it leads to the sound of snoring. When a child gently squeaks or snores at night, it could be a warning sign of an underlying sleep disorder.
Common Reasons for Snoring in Children
• Infection in the Respiratory System- If the child suffers from a stuffy nose or from chronic allergies or cold then there is a chance that the snoring is brought on about by a blockage to the sinuses. The blockage to the nasal canal makes it difficult for the child to breathe normally and instead has to breathe through the mouth leading to the sound of snoring.
• Inflamed Tonsils- Enlarged adenoids, as well as tonsils, are the primary reasons for snoring in children. It is also a strong indicator of sleep apnea. The inflamed glands block the airways and the child finds it difficult to breathe during the night.
• Diverged Septum- When the airway of the nostrils is offset, it leads to the condition of a diverged or deviated septum. This again makes breathing through the nose quite a difficult job. This is because the passage is smaller as compared to others, lowering the quantity of airflow.
• Obstructive Sleep Apnea- Obstructive sleep apnea is a severe condition where the airflow becomes obstructed completely via the respiratory system. This makes breathing difficult through the nose and can lead to other associated health issues.
Symptoms of Various Snoring Problems in Children
Each of the disorders stated above is characterized by a number of symptoms that lead to the problem of snoring in children. These may include-
• The child continues to snore almost regularly
• The breathing is brought to a halt by snorts, gasps or pauses that extend longer than ten seconds
• The child suffers from restless sleep or tends to sleep in awkward positions especially with the head tipped backwards. Remedies After observing your child’s symptoms there are a few remedies you can try on the recommendation of your paediatrician.
• Give the child some medications for allergy or congestion
• You can put your child’s head up with the help of a pillow.
This can clear up the blocked nasal passage and bring the child some relief. Aside from these, your paediatrician might feel that you take your child and go see either an ENT specialist or a sleep specialist to figure out if the child suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.