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Obstructive sleep apnea: Here's what you need to know

by , 21 November 2017
Obstructive sleep apnea: Here's what you need to know
Sleep problems can affect anyone - men and women, from children and teenagers to the elderly. According to statistics, more than half of Americans have trouble sleeping a few nights a week, and nearly one in five feels fatigued almost every day!

What we're trying to say is that if you struggle with regular or occasional bouts of tossing and turning every night, you're not alone. The question is: What type of sleep problem do you have? Let's take a look at obstructive sleep apnea - the most common form of sleep apnea that's believed to affect approximately 4% of men and 2% of women worldwide.

Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea

The most common signs and symptoms of this sleep problems are loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, gasping during your sleep and insomnia. Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include the following:
·         Fatigue, depression, headache, dry mouth, sore throat, teeth grinding and reduced sex drive;
·         Respiratory symptoms such as episodes of no breathing, breathing through your mouth, loud breathing or shortness of breath;
·         Behavioural symptoms such as irritability of hyperactivity;
·         Cognitive symptoms such as memory loss or lack of concentration; and
·         Urinary symptoms such as excessive urination at night and bed wetting.
 
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Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea 

While obstructive sleep apnea is seen in all age groups, the frequency increases with age and obesity. Apart from being an older adult and overweight, there are other factors that can increase your risk of obstructive sleep apnea, such as:
·         You snore loudly;
·         You smoke cigarettes;
·         You’re a heavy drinker;
·         You have high blood pressure;
·         You have diabetes;
·         You’re a male or a post-menopausal female;
·         You have a thick neck (greater than 43 cm in men and 40.5 cm in women);
·         You have naturally small airways in your nose, throat or mouth;
·         You’re frequently congested due to allergies or hay fever;
·         You’ve had a mild brain injury in the past; or
·         You have a family history of sleep apea.
 

How to treat obstructive sleep apnea

If you think you may have obstructive sleep apnea, here’s some good news: Treating this sleep problem is as simple as losing weight, sleeping on your side, quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption.
 
Other common treatments for obstructive sleep apnea include an oral device and surgery.

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