Saturday, October 25, 2008

Is It Just Snoring Or Is It Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea may be preventing you from getting the rest you need. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious health problem but many people don't even know they have it. Usually it is the bed partner who first notices that the person is struggling to breathe. Snoring is not the same as sleep apnea. Snoring is simply a loud sound that you make during breathing while asleep if there is any obstruction in your airway.

How can you tell if it's just snoring or OSA?
When you sleep, your airway relaxes, just like the rest of your body. However, as it does so, it collapses and becomes blocked, or obstructed. When the back of your throat vibrates against obstruction, it's called snoring. For the most part, snoring is not really a medical problem. While it can be irritating to other people sleeping in the same room, most snoring doesn't cause problems.

However, the airway can be so blocked that it completely blocks your breathing. Without air, your body cannot take in oxygen. Once your blood oxygen level drops below a certain level, the central nervous system triggers your body to gasp for breath. To do this, you partially wake up. This cycle can happen several times through the night.

There are several problems with this scenario: First, the repeated cycle keeps you from falling into deep sleep which your body needs. You will be tired and irritable the next day and may not be focused enough to safely drive or to work.

More importantly, the loss of oxygen can lead to memory loss, impotence, hypertension, heart attacks and strokes.

If you think that you or a loved one has OSA, it is well worth the effort to see a doctor. He or she can rule out other causes and recommend treatments such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. These devices keep enough air flowing to keep the airway open. CPAP machines have been proven to help snoring and OSA problems.

There's no need to suffer from snoring. See a doctor today and get some good sleep.

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