Spotlight on Sleep Apnea
Advisory by Roman Lester Rosales, Guardian Senior Pharmacist
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where regular breathing patterns are disrupted during sleep. Breathing becomes shallow, with constant stops and restarts causing a snorting or gasping sound which repeats throughout sleep. It is a serious condition which may lead to complications such as cardiovascular diseases and concentration problems.
What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?
Signs and symptoms include loud snoring, disturbed sleep, episodes of disrupted breathing during sleep, and waking up abruptly at night. Due to disrupted sleep, individuals with sleep apnea will typically experience morning headaches, irritability, excessive daytime drowsiness, and attention problems. Males and people who are advanced in age, obese, or have narrow airways are more likely to have sleep apnea. Smoking and the use of alcohol or sedatives also increases the risk of sleep apnea.
What are the treatment options available?
It is important to consult a medical professional if you experience any of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. The evaluation of sleep apnea may be done through polysomnography or home sleep tests to monitor breathing and other body functions during sleep.
Some ways to deal with sleep apnea include better weight management, regular exercise, smoking cessation, sleeping sideways, avoiding alcohol or sedating medications, and keeping your nasal passages open.
Alternative treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or the use of other airway pressure devices to keep the airway passages open to prevent snoring and apnea. Finally, surgery (e.g. tissue removal, implants) may be necessary if other treatment options have failed.