Snoring is defined as a harsh sound produced during sleep. It is sometimes considered as a mannerism of a person. Normally, an individual doesn’t think of snoring as a problem unless it interferes with the sleeping of a bedtime partner. Sleep apnea is often related to snoring. Although such, it must be noted that not everyone who snores have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is defined as the abnormal cessation of breathing during sleep. The unusual pausing may last for seconds and at severe cases it may last for several minutes. Treatment for this condition is simple and available, however often than not sleep apnea is unrecognized. Untreated sleep apnea may be dangerous and detrimental to an individual’s health.
In recent times, the incidence of sleep apnea has increased. The increase in such has paralleled the incidence increase of obesity thus the link between both conditions has been suspected. There are three types of sleep apnea; obstructive, central and mixed sleep apnea. When the cause of sleep apnea is related to the narrowing of the air passages or a possible obstruction in it, the condition is classified as obstructive sleep apnea. In central sleep apnea the problem happens when the respiratory centers of the brain becomes imbalanced during sleep. The mixed type occurs when both an obstruction and a problem in the brain is present. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common than the other types. Among the distinguishable signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring, daytime sleepiness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, and dry throat in the morning. Diagnostic screenings also exist for the condition such as routine physical exam, thorough medical history, blood studies and polysomnography.
Sleep study or polysomnography is considered as the gold standard among the diagnostic test for this condition. The study is done during sleep at home or in a hospital with a technician and monitoring equipment in place. The test also includes an electroencephalogram, electromyogram, electro-oculogram monitors and a blood oxygen level oximeter. In cases where in sleep apnea is caused by an underlying condition, treatment of such conditions is recommended and beneficial. For mild to moderate sleep apnea, self help strategies and lifestyle changes like sleeping on the sides and elevating the head with two pillows when sleeping is advised. If these measures are however unsuccessful, individuals must see physicians for further evaluation and treatment. One of the known measures to treat moderate to severe sleep apnea is the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP. The device also known as Automatic Positive Airway Pressure device acts like a splint to the patient’s airway causing it to open during sleep, this is achieved by means of a flow of pressurized air into the throat. Wearing the device can just be like wearing a mouthpiece. Although CPAP is known measure to treat sleep apnea, it doesn’t cure it. To achieve cure the patient must undergo a surgery. Surgery is done to widen breathing passages. It usually involves shrinking, stiffening, or removing excess tissue in the mouth and throat or resetting the lower jaw.
Since the link between obesity and sleep apnea had been suspected, studies have been on going to decipher whether the two indeed has a relationship. One research concluded that there is strong independent association among sleep apnea, visceral obesity and other conditions like insulin resistance and hypercytokinemia. Sleep apnea, associated daytime sleepiness and fatigue are common manifestations of many obese middle aged men. A specialist at the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center stated that when a person gains weight, especially in the trunk and neck area, the risk of sleep-disordered breathing increases due to compromised respiratory function. Since it is somehow well established that obesity can cause sleep apnea, research nowadays are aimed at finding whether gastric bypass surgery can help treat the condition. Indeed, studies have shown that procedures have been successful in improving sleep apnea. It should be noted however, that gastric bypass surgery is just an option for morbidly obese patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea and at times the surgery cannot be done due to possible risks involved. With lifestyle and behavioural changes, accompanying the surgery, especially diet modification sleep apnea patients have reported resolved problems with the condition. Thus, gastric bypass surgery should be considered as a treatment option for patients with sleep apnea.
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