Obstructive Sleep Apnea Can Be Life Threatening

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be the major reason of decrease in energy and tiredness during the day and not just aging, although that is a possiblity. It is a kind of sleep disorder which is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing. The low breathing is referred to as hypopnea while the pause is called apnea.

The central sleep apnea (CSA) and a combination of OSA and CSA are the other two forms of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep apnea at about 84 percent of the cases being caused by it. Pauses or apneas during sleep are results of breathing interruptions due to the presence of a physical block along the airway despite respiratory effort. Very frequently, people who are afflicted with the disorder are not aware of it until one’s family or housemates become alerted by one’s nocturnal sounds. The characteristic nocturnal sound or snore is produced as the air that a person breathes squeeze past the airway blockage lying along the airway.

The obstruction of the airway is generally caused by the slackening of the soft muscles in the palate and throat. The case is stimulated and aggravated by factors such as age, obesity and/or other related health conditions. Since estrogen keeps muscles from relaxing, menopause among older women can be another precipitating factor of obstructive sleep apnea. A causal factor that can only be corrected by surgery would be anatomical or structural abnormalities. Having a low and thick soft palate that automatically bounces as the air passes through is common.

Obstructive sleep apnea is not always the prognosis, however, for snoring. Those who snore heavily then wake up irritable, feeling sleepy and fall asleep even in the middle of the day even when driving or working may probably have OSA. One must consider consulting with a doctor for diagnosis and treatment if other symptoms start manifesting like forgetfulness, frequent headaches and fatigue.

Obstructive sleep apnea is not life threatening unless there is a serious underlying medical cause. It must be treated, though, because not getting enough sleep leads to poor cognitive processing that may cause adverse occurrences like accidents and depression.

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