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What kind of a disorder is sleep apnea and how does itmanifest?

As its name suggests, sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder,which is characterized either by shallow breaths or by one or more pauses inbreathing while sleeping. These pauses in breathing may last a minute even, althoughthey usually last a few seconds. There are two types of sleep apnea and theyare obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. The first type is morecommon and it is a result of the state when the muscles of the throat arerelaxed, while the second type is a result of improper signals that the brainsends to the muscles responsible for the control of breathing. Although they continue to breathe normally after thesepauses in breathing, people with this disorder have poor sleep, which furtherresults in tiredness during the day.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed and can it be treated?

It is not at all uncommon that sleep apnea remainsundiagnosed, because the signs that may indicate it cannot be noticed orrecognized at the doctor’s office, or through the blood tests, for example. On theother side, people who suffer from it can hardly diagnose it themselves, oreven suspect on it, since the symptoms occur during sleep. Family members orpartners are usually of greatest help here, because they notice that somethingis wrong. On the other side, there is a test called nocturnal polysomnography,which can help in detecting this condition.

However, it is very important to treat this conditiontimely, because if left untreated, it may increase the risks of diabetes,obesity, hypertension, arrhythmias, stroke, and other heart related conditions.Depending on the severity of the case, the treatment may consist of a simplechange of the lifestyle and habits, which primarily refers to quitting smokingand losing the unnecessary weight. There are also devices that help inunblocking the airway, but in some cases, the surgery may be the best solution.Those surgical procedures that are considered helpful in curing sleep apnea areuvulopalatopharyngoplasty, maxillomandibular advancement, and tracheostomy. Thetherapy called continuous positive airway pressure is suggested to some of the patients, and it requires wearing the mask over the nose while sleeping. Some patientsmay find it helpful to use supplemental oxygen, but there are also a number ofother therapies available.

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