What is Sleep Apnea and How is It Treated?

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You?ve just been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or possibly you?re suspicious you have it but haven?t yet had it checked out. Maybe you?re just curious about what it is. Whatever your interest, read on to find out what it is, what the risks and symptoms are, and what the options are for treating it.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Defining it is pretty simple. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where someone?s breathing stops repeatedly as they sleep. It?s a serious disorder that affects men twice as much as women, and is also 40% more likely to occur in people with asthma. Other risk factors include being overweight, having a large neck, and having sinus and allergy issues. Estimates are that 2% to 4% of people in the United States have undiagnosed sleep apnea, which is about one in every 50 people.

What Are the Risks?

Because someone with sleep apnea may stop breathing as much as 60 times an hour during the night, the brain doesn?t get enough oxygen during this time. The result is that untreated sleep apnea can lead to greatly increased risks of heart disease and stroke. In fact, the National Commission on Sleep Disorders believes that about 38,000 people are dying each year from heart issues that are somehow connected to sleep apnea. Less serious, but still very significant if you?re a sufferer, it can lead to constant headaches and exhaustion that results in poor performance at work or school.

What are the Symptoms?

Regular morning headaches, often awakening with a sore or dry throat, frequent insomnia, and constant sleepiness during the day can all be signs of sleep apnea. You should also consider getting a diagnosis if you regularly wake up with a choking or gasping sensation.

What are the Options for Treating it?

The most common and effective treatment is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, therapy. There are so many auto CPAP machines and CPAP masks available that there?s now a good market for used CPAP items, in fact, which can save you money. CPAP therapy works by delivering a stream of pressurized air through your airway to keep your throat from closing. The whole system is made up of the CPAP machine, or sleep apnea machine, a hose, and a mask.
The masks come in different types, and a hunt through used CPAP offerings will show you a lot of the two most popular options: the nasal pillows and the nasal masks. There are CPAP full face masks, and CPAP masks for side sleepers, as well. CPAC supplies, including used CPAP supplies, can be bought online; however it?s best to first get a diagnosis and recommendation from your doctor about what would be best for you.

Sleep apnea can destroy quality of life and even increase your risk of developing another serious health condition. If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, go get a diagnosis and see what you can do to improve your sleep and your life.

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