One of the basics of good health is the prevention of severe diseases. One of these severe diseases is obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a disease which is characterized by more than 10-15 episodes of sleep apnea per hour. It is important to distinguish simple snoring from sleep apnea.
The obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a very dangerous disease. Why? Here are the main reasons:
- It is difficult to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea syndrome as the disease appears only at night during sleep and is hidden as a snore;
- There are very few specific symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, usually the disease is masked by other diseases;
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome stimulates the development of other severe diseases;
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome cannot be cured without curing the root cause disease (for example, if there is obesity, this will need to be treated in conjunction with the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome);
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome shortens life expectancy by approximately 15-20 years;
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome makes life miserable due to a constant feeling of drowsiness and fatigue;
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome almost does not appear in the press and people are not informed about this disease.
Snoring is a sound that reflects the vibration of the soft tissue of the pharynx. There is nothing terrible in this sound as such. But snoring is also one of the initial signs of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. During snoring there is a narrowing of the airways but they still remain partially open, whereas during sleep apnea there is complete obstruction of the airways.
According to the latest statistics, about 20 percent of the US population is suffering from sleep apnea. For comparison: only 4 percent suffer from bronchial asthma in the United States. The fight against asthma costs the US 19.7 billion, and the fight against sleep apnea costs 165 billion, which is eight times more!
Snoring is a red flag and one of the main symptoms of sleep apnea. After 30-years-old, about 20% of people snore and 2% to 5% of them have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Therefore, approximately every 1 in 5 snorers are in serious danger. According to the World Health Organization, snoring masks the pathology that can actually reduce human life by 15-20 years!
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is first characterized by snoring, then suddenly the snoring stops and so does the breathing. The person tries to breathe air, but cannot, as the relaxed tissues of the throat have completely block the airways. As mentioned above, snoring on the other hand, only partially narrows the airways. As a rule, sleep apnea lasts from 15 to 60 seconds before the brain wakes up and gives the pharyngeal muscle an order to strain. Then the person loudly snores and starts to breathe again. Sleep apnea can occur up to 500 times per night and can last up to 4 hours.
The quality of life of a person with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is poor. At night there is superficial restless sleep, a headache during the day, decrease of memory and attention, and daytime sleepiness. In the future in left untreated, sufferers are likely to have a high risk of hypertension, impotence, heart attack and stroke.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
The causes of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome are the same as those of snoring, the difference is only in the degree of their severity. Suffering from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome can occur at any age, even in childhood. But there are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of breathing problems during sleep:
1) Being male;
2) Obesity (Body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg / m2, BMI = weight (kg) / height^2 (m^2);
3) Age over 40 years old;
4) Large neck circumference (more than 37 cm);
5) Large tonsils, tongue or small lower jaw;
6) Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD);
7) Difficult nasal breathing due to deviated nasal septum, allergies, or common cold.
The probability of obstructive apnea syndrome is high (up to 40-60%) in patients with the following diagnoses:
1) Stage 2 and above obesity (body mass index greater than 35 kg / m2).
2) Stage 2 and above arterial hypertension (arterial pressure greater than 160/100 mm Hg)
3) Heart disturbance of the rhythm and blockade at night.
4) NYHA Class II and above of chronic heart failure.
5) Metabolic syndrome X (waist circumference more than 80 cm in women and more than 94 cm in men).
6) Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (a condition in which people with extreme obesity experience alveolar hypoventilation- unable to breathe deeply and quickly).
7) Respiratory failure
8) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with FEV1 <50
9) Hypothyroidism (a decrease in the function of the thyroid gland).