Causes and Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Sleeping well at night allows us to perform well during the day. We can concentrate on our work, be alert when driving and enjoy our leisure time, family and friends.
However, approximately 5% of the population suffers from sleep apnea and, interestingly, many of the people affected do not know about it.
Sleep apnea is an disorder that affects people who snore and involves stopped breathing causing a lack of air to the lungs and oxygen to the blood. This produces a stress situation in the body at cardiac and at brain level, resulting in a short awakenings.
Apnea has a difficult diagnosis for different reasons. The main one is the snoring Taboo nowadays. Many people still find it difficult to visit a specialist without realising that a good treatment can significantly improve their day-to-day life and a daytime sleepiness.
Another reason why it is difficult to diagnose apnea is the fact of sleeping or sleeping alone. Those people who are there while sleeping are usually the ones who call out the warning in apneas, as the main protagonist is never aware of this.
What are the main causes of sleep apnea?
The main cause is overweight. In the majority of cases, a loss of weight would notably improve the quality of sleep of the patient who, normally, tends to be a 50or 60 year old man with overweight, short and wide neck.
On the other hand, it can also be due to anatomical problems. For example, problems in the palate, tonsillar hypertrophy, retrognathia, etc.
In regards to the consequences of apnea, the main one is drowsiness as there can be many awakenings during the night causing a bad rest.
Besides, people who suffer from apneas tend to have more psychiatric problems (anxiety, depression, lower work performance, etc.), more tendency to suffer daily accidents (traffic and work) and are also more exposed to cardiovascular disease or strokes.
How to treat apneas?
The first thing we have to take into account is the weight of the patient since overweight is the main cause of this disorder, therefore, a loss of weight can prevent us from having to recur to any other treatment.
We can also follow a series of tips that will help us to improve. For example, avoid very heavy dinners, try to leave a considerable margin between dinner and bedtime or avoid alcohol, anxiolytics and hypnotics.
In case we still have apneas but the figure is not very high, we can introduce a mandibular advancement device or a surgical treatment of the tonsils, palate, etc.
On the other hand, if the number of apneas is significant, the appropriate treatment is with CPAP. This is a machine that applies continuous air pressure to the lungs so that the patient does not collapse and apnea does not occur.
In any case, in case of doubt, we advise you to visit the specialist. A good diagnosis can significantly improve your quality of life.
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