Apnea – This is holding your breath in a dream. Since a person cannot do without oxygen, when its level in the blood decreases, the brain gives an alarm signal and the person wakes up.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not at all a rare condition. Apnea and hypopnea (incomplete breath holding) lasting more than 10 seconds occur in all people during sleep. Rare, less than 5 times an hour, breath holdings do not harm health and do not require medical attention. If their number increases, then this is regarded as a disease – obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Up to 15 episodes of respiratory arrest per hour are defined as a mild degree of this syndrome, 15-30 episodes – an average degree, 30 or more – severe.
Of course, limiting the supply of oxygen to the body negatively affects health. Against the background of oxygen starvation, the heart rate decreases, and in the awakening phase, blood pressure rises, the heart rate increases. Such fluctuations can lead to oxygen starvation of the myocardium, the development of cardiac arrhythmias. Apnea also makes you feel worse. Frequent awakenings make sleep “ragged” and shallow, in the morning a person wakes up broken and sleepy.
Snoring is not harmful?
“Apnea may not manifest itself in any way, especially at the initial stage,” explains Head of the Sleep Medicine Department of the First Moscow State Medical University I.M.Sechenova Mikhail Poluektov… – It is impossible to notice or hear a slight breath holding – neither to the person himself, nor to those around him. As a rule, patients go to the doctor at an advanced stage.
The main thing that should alert a person is snoring. This is the main indicator of trouble, which suggests that during the respiratory cycle (inhalation and exhalation), air does not properly pass through the airways and vibrates the soft structures of the pharynx (the tongue, which flutters and gives a rumbling sound of snoring). If, in addition to snoring, a person complains of superficial and restless sleep, daytime sleepiness, morning fatigue, there is every reason to believe that apnea is the root of these complaints.
To clarify the diagnosis, polysomnography is performed (registration of vital signs during sleep). This is a reliable, but complex and expensive method that is only possible in a clinic. Therefore, an abbreviated study is more often carried out: cardiorespiratory monitoring. Such testing can be done at home, and the information received will be enough for the doctor to confirm the diagnosis. ”
How is apnea treated?
It depends on what caused it.
The most common cause of respiratory arrest during sleep is obesity, in particular fatty deposits in the neck that block the airways. Losing weight by only 10% of the original weight reduces the frequency of breath holding in half.
If the cause of apnea is inflammatory diseases or the anatomical features of the structure of the structures of the ENT organs, the treatment tactics are determined by the otolaryngologist.
Most often, treatment comes down to CPAP therapy – the use of a special mask during sleep, through which the air entering under positive pressure does not allow the airway to collapse. However, such a mask is symptomatic therapy, that is, it helps as long as the person uses it. So you will have to sleep in a mask every night and for life, if the causes of apnea are not eliminated.