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» Understanding Sleep Apnea

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The word apnea, translated from Greek means without breath.
Sleep apnea is a relative common condition whereby the sleeper actually forgets to breath during his or her night time sleeping hours.
There are three types of sleep apnea, mixed apnea, central apnea and the most common type, obstructive apnea.

The main differences in the three are the basic underlying cause for the apnea. In spite of those differences, the result is that in each type of apnea, those who suffer from it will stop breathing repeatedly during the sleeping hours, sometimes as often as several hundred times per night, and at times, for more than a minute, which can cause some serious health ramifications.

Central Apnea:
Occurs when the brain simply does not process the breathing patterns properly. It can take place during the daytime, waking hours, or at night, and is not a true sleep apnea. The control center for breathing can occasionally fail to start or maintain the breathing process.

This is not uncommon in newborns, particularly those who are premature, because that aspect of the brain tissue is as yet immature, and the process of breathing is interrupted repeatedly, to the point that very often a monitor is used to assure they breath at reasonable intervals.

It is not common among adults although it does take place, making it the least most likely cause of adult sleep apnea.

Obstructive Apnea:
Is a process that occurs when the body tissue creates an obstruction to the airway. Sometimes cause by tonsils or adenoids, it happens most of the time during sleep, as during this time the tissue that is located at the base of the throat relaxed and is more likely to fall back toward the throat.

It is a very common condition and can affect as much as 3% of people( particularly children) who are otherwise very health individuals.

Sleep apnea creates several notable symptoms, among them snoring, difficult or labored breathing while asleep, air hunger, or gasping for air, and very restless unsatisfactory sleep.

School aged children who suffer from sleep apnea very often wake feeling unrested, and have difficulties in school due to the lack of a true restful sleep. They may have difficulty maintaining information in school and display a lack of attention in their school efforts.

A newly done study suggests that there is a strong link between sleep apnea and children who are prone to ADHD, because the sleep patterns are disturbed by the sleep apnea.

Although sleep apnea is a relatively minor health problem, it can create other problems which are less so.
Sleep apnea can be a causative agent in hypertension, some types of heart and circulatory diseases, memory difficulties and migraine headaches.

Treatments for Apnea will be dependent upon the underlying causative agent, but are necessary to assure a truly restful sleep and to prevent further problems.

They may include:
*Surgical removal of the tonsils or adenoids, to prevent the soft tissue obstruction.
*CPAP;(continuous positive airway pressure; the use of a nose mask which will force air through the airway, keeping it open during sleep hours
*oxygen administration
*medications which can aid to stimulate the breathing center.


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