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Obstructive Sleep Apnea – A Complete Overview

The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive. This condition can occur one of two ways – due to a partial blockage of the airway or when there are repeated episodes of a partial blockage. Both occur during sleep and cause a variety of problems if left untreated.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that over 12 million people in the United States are afflicted with sleep apnea. Over 50% of the affected individuals are considered to be overweight. While the condition is more common in middle-aged men, women can be impacted by obstructive sleep apnea. The condition becomes more likely as a person ages, especially if they are overweight. Women usually develop sleep apnea after menopausal age is reached.

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and snoring often go hand-in-hand. Although snoring, even severely, does not indicate that a person has obstructive sleep apnea. When snoring occurs in combination with other symptoms, sleep apnea may be the root cause.

Sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Inability to wake in the morning, difficulty getting up
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Headaches immediately following waking in the morning
  • Severe snoring that is noticeable by bed partner
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying focused
  • Bouts of irritability and depression
  • Nighttime wakefulness brought on by sudden onsets of choking or gasping for air

How Can Obstructive Sleep Apnea Be Treated?

Most people with sleep apnea report symptoms of severe snoring to their doctor because their bed partner has brought the condition to their attention. Your doctor may recommend an anti snoring mouthpiece to combat the snoring symptoms and effectively treat other symptoms caused by sleep apnea.

Generally, it is an obstruction or partial blockage in the upper airway that leads to symptoms of snoring and other problems. If the airway can be opened up properly, snoring may be diminished.

Conservative treatments for obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Weight loss of approximately 10% of the overall body weight
  • Avoiding alcohol or sleep aid medication
  • Changing the sleep position, avoiding sleeping on the back
  • Eliminating sleep deprivation
  • Using anti snoring mouthpieces and other aids that prevent snoring, such as pillows

Most cases of obstructive sleep apnea may be treated effectively with conservative treatment. In fact, most cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea may be remedied through the use of at home treatments, such as anti snoring devices.

In the most extreme cases, more aggressive treatment may be required. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is another form of treatment for severe cases of some types of sleep apnea. The CPAP consists of a mask and mouthpiece worn at night while the individual is sleeping. The machine prevents closure to the airway and supplies air to the nose and mouth. A large number of patients have difficulty tolerating the CPAP.

Surgical procedures are performed for obstructive sleep apnea when conditions are the most severe. A doctor may carry out nasal surgeries, somnoplasty and other corrective procedures when the condition is severe. Doctors recommend conservative care first to see if the condition can be helped without surgery.

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About the Author Robert J. Hudson

Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!

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