How is Sleep Apnea treated?

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person experiences abnormal breathing during sleep due to the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapsing. They tend to have many extended pauses in their breath when they sleep. These temporary breathing pauses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, leading to potentially serious health consequences. Warning signs include loud snoring and gasping sounds as you sleep.

Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Disrupted breathing where breathing becomes labored or even stops for up to a minute at a time.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Limited attention span or difficulty thinking clearly

Sleep apnea occurs in approximately 25% of men and nearly 10% of women. Sleep apnea affects people of all ages, even including babies and children. Particularly people over the age of 50 and those who are overweight are susceptible to sleep apnea.

How is Sleep Apnea treated?

You may be able to treat mild sleep apnea by making some lifestyle changes. Your primary care provider may recommend that you:

  • Lose weight.
  • Not use alcohol and sleeping pills.
  • Change sleep positions to improve breathing.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine (while wearing a mask you wear over your nose and mouth while you sleep, a device delivers a constant flow of air)

It is essential to consult a medical professional if you experience or if your partner observes the following:

  • Snoring loud enough to disturb your sleep or that of others.
  • Waking up gasping or choking.
  • Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep.
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you’re working, watching television, or even driving a vehicle.

Amber Hill, APRN-CNP
Ryan Family Care

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