The Silent Killer?

Posted by: Beena Q (March 5, 2012)

It’s well established that sleep apnea—characterized by repeated episodes of breathing cessation and partial awakening during sleep—contributes to daytime fatigue. Now, experts are beginning to realize that sleep apnea can have more serious consequences as well.

Sleep apnea is more common than we thought. According to the National Institutes of Health, if affects more than twelve million Americans! The most common risk factors for sleep apnea include male gender and being overweight.

Fortunately, treatment for sleep apnea (including lifestyle measures, weight loss, and continuous positive airway pressure), can help resolve the sleep apnea as well as some of these related health problems.

  • Try to live a healthier lifestyle by exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol intake. Losing weight is the most effective way to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea, as one of the main causes of obstructive sleep apnea is fatty deposits in the back of the throat.

  • Ask your doctor whether a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and mask will help you. The CPAP equipment helps to keep the airflow moving through your respiratory system while you sleep. It is one of the most effective ways to treat sleep apnea.

  • Consult with your doctor to learn whether surgery is the answer for your sleep apnea. Removal of the tonsils or adenoids often alleviates the symptoms of sleep apnea.

  • Avoid lying on your back while sleeping, as doing so can cause the fatty deposits in the back of your throat to close your airway.

  • Follow through with your doctor or sleep-disorder specialist if there are any changes, whether positive or negative, in your sleep apnea symptoms, so that you will know what is working best for you.

  • Stay alert for any of the warning signs or symptoms of sleep apnea, such as headaches, drowsiness during the day, a dry or scratchy throat, waking up frequently during the night or gasping and choking upon awakening.

“If sleep apnea is left untreated, it could lead to a lot serious health problems. When you stop breathing during sleep, your oxygen level drops. The brain senses this as danger because it could not survive without oxygen.” Dr. Kota J. Reddy, Cardiologist, and Founder of Reddy Wellness Center, also adds, “If left untreated, sleep apnea leads to several health problems including heart diseases.”


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