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Sleep Apnea

Uploaded by tenor_sax416 on Dec 13, 1999

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder where a person has experiences of not breathing during sleep. Over 20 million Americans, mostly overweight men, suffer from sleep apnea. Despite these numbers, sleep apnea is often not treated directly because its symptoms are thought to be those of depression, stress, or just loud snoring. There may be a genetic component to this disorder as it often occurs within families. People with sleep apnea stop breathing for at least 10 seconds at a time; these short stops in breathing can happen up to 400 times every night. The Greek word "apnea" literally means "without breath". There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. Nine out of 10 patients with sleep apnea have this kind of apnea. If you have this type, something is blocking the passage or windpipe, called the trachea, that brings air into your body. Your windpipe might be blocked by your tongue, tonsils, or uvula. It might also be blocked by a large amount of fatty tissue in the throat or even by relaxed throat muscles. Central sleep apnea is rare. This type is called central because it is related to the function of the central nervous system. If you have this type of apnea, the muscles you use in breathing don't get the "go ahead" signal from your brain. Either the brain doesn't send the signal, or the signal gets interrrupted. Mixed sleep apnea, as the name implies, is a combination of the two. So, what are the signs? One example is when a person sleeps, they have a very pronounced snore-- more like a loud and sudden snort. This "gasp for air" is literally a life saver when the mouth and throat muscles tense up to allow air back into the body. Most sleepers are unaware of this occurrence, although it often shakes their bed partners, roommates, and even neighbors to the core. Another sign is when a person falls asleep at inappropriate times like work, driving, sitting in a chair, or in front of a television. It can also be a sign of sleep apnea if a person frequently has morning headaches, memory difficulties, low energy levels, agitation, shortness of breath, or leg swelling. These are the main symptoms seen when...

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Uploaded by:   tenor_sax416

Date:   12/13/1999

Category:   Biology

Length:   2 pages (530 words)

Views:   1899

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