Sunday, January 31, 2010

The risk factors of sleep apnea

There are common risk factors and symptoms involving sleep apnea. If you think that any the listed items may pertain to you then you might want to talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.
  • Hereditary – It is common to find that sleep apnea can be hereditary. It was in my case, my father had it and so do I. 
  • Overweight – This is probably the most common risk factor when it comes to sleep apnea. If you are overweight your chances of having sleep apnea are pretty good. The excess weight that you carry around your neck blocks the airway passage in your throat. 
  • If you are a man – Men tend to have sleep apnea more than women. One possible reason for this is women are always diagnosed with this sleeping disorder. ( It is important whether you are a man or woman to find out if you have sleep apnea. ) 
  • Facial structure – the shape of your face plays a big part in whether you have sleep apnea or not. A narrow face might mean that your airway is narrow also. This also ties into the hereditary factor.  
  • Alcohol – Drinking isn’t good for you in many ways and it certainly doesn’t help your sleeping. Drinking causes the muscles in the back of the throat to loosen and block your airway.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sleep apnea and sore throats

Like a lot of people who have sleep apnea I sleep with my mouth open. And like a lot of people with sleep apnea I occasionally have a sore throat in the morning.

I don’t think that I have always slept with it open because I used to grind my teeth (bruxism). I remember going to a doctor many years ago and he told me that sleeping with my teeth clenched was not only bad for teeth but was also stressful. Somehow this lead to me to sleep with my mouth open, which isn’t good for folks with sleep apnea.

If I am especially tired when I go to bed I know that my apnea will be particularly bad. My snoring (actually sleep apnea’s snore is more like a grunt or a gasp) will be extremely persistent and my throat will be very dry in the morning. Sometimes it will get to the point that I will drink a glass of water in the middle of the night, which isn’t a good idea because it usually makes me go to the bathroom.

The situation gets really exasperating when I already have a sore throat from an illness. On nights like that I rarely get any rest at all.

You would think that I would be able to just sleep with my mouth closed but it isn’t that easy. When I was first fitted for a cpap the tech made me try a mask just over my nose. It just didn’t work.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sleep Apnea and bedwetting

Sleep apnea seems to have a host of irritating side effects. The worse one is not getting enough rest, which leads to a plethora of problems. Another one that you might not have thought of is bedwetting; both children and adults experience this frustrating problem.

Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is divided into 2 groups:

  1. Primary nocturnal enuresis, which is the most common form of bedwetting, is where young children continue to wet their bed after the age where the majority of children stay dry.  
  2. Secondary nocturnal enuresis where the child or adult starts to wet their bed after an extended period of being dry.

In children the main reason for bedwetting or PNE is the delay of being able to tell when they have to urinate and their ability to hold their bladder. Heredity also can play a part in bedwetting in that if one of the parents were a bed wetter then there is a 40 percent chance that the child would be too. Children who have sleep apneas also have a risk of bedwetting.

Secondary nocturnal enuresis occurs in about 2% of the adult population. The causes of SNE could be prostrate enlargement, bladder infection, diabetes and sleep apnea. As for the sleep apnea causing bedwetting, controlling the apnea should help eliminate the secondary enuresis.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain

There has always been a correlation between being overweight and having sleep apnea. Of course like I have written in a past post you don’t have to be overweight to have Sleep Apnea. But does sleep apnea make you gain weight?

There are many reasons why being overweight can bring on sleep apnea. As you gain weight the excess tissue in the back of your mouth grows causing more blockages. Also when you gain weight your neck becomes thicker causing more blockages in the throat. Being overweight can also cause heart problems and a host of other problems. Losing weight certainly is a healthy goal for anyone.

But does sleep apnea actually cause weight gain?

If you have sleep apnea, then you know how tiring it is to do anything. When we are tired we tend to eat things that have a lot of sugar in them for energy. It is a quick fix that we all do. The energy runs out but calories stick around and turn into pounds. And exercise is also out of the question because of sleep apnea, once again you probably just don’t have the energy.

Another thing that can cause weight gain is something called the Krebs cycle where lack of sleep causes the body’s’ metabolism to slow down and without metabolism the weight will stay on your body.

Now it is important to remember that once you get your sleep apnea under control, the weight won’t just fall off automatically. You will still have to eat right and more importantly you will have to exercise. The good thing is that you will feel better and be more apt to tackle exercise and eating right.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleep apnea and cardiomyopathy

It is well known that sleep apnea can cause heart disease among other things. What is really disturbing is that sleep apnea can cause the actual deterioration of the heart muscle which is called cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy is where the function of the heart muscle is at risk which could lead to a heart attack. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common type where the heart is enlarged and its ability to pump blood is diminished. The left ventricle of the heart is usually affected.

The most common cause of cardiomyopathy is ischemia where there is a shortage of blood supply to vital organs like the heart. This lack of blood and oxygen can cause tissue damage of leading to cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms of cardiomyopathy are:

  • Being dizzy 
  • Being tired 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Swelling of ankles and legs 
  • Chest pain 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Loss of appetite 
The connection between sleep apnea and cardiomyopathy is that sleep apnea contributes to ischemia. Obstructive sleep apnea reduces the amount of oxygen to the blood supply which in turn reduces the amount going to the myocardium (heart muscle).

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sleep apnea and Nuvigil

Usually the combination of certain medication and sleep apnea isn’t recommended. I have had doctor’s tell me not to take any kind of sleeping pills because it makes the apnea worse, much worse because it relaxes the muscles in the back of the throat. But what about a pill that helps you stay awake during the day. I recently found out about Nuvigil.

Nuvigil is made by Cephalon, Inc. It is a prescription drug that promotes wakefulness. It is a non-amphetamine drug which is a good thing. It contains Armodafinil which is a stimulant that promotes mental alertness. From my understanding it is to be used in conjunction with the cpap machine. So if the cpap therapy isn’t giving you enough rest, then this medicine will help you feel more awake and alert.

Nuvigil is also used for people who work on night shifts and for those who have narcolepsy.

Like with any medication there are side effects. You should go over that with your doctor before taking it.

Nuvigil isn’t the only medication on the market that helps with wakefulness there is also Provigil (modafinil). Provigil is also made by Cephalon; there really isn’t any difference between the two. In fact there seems to be some controversy about why Cephalon came out with Nuvigil.

So if you are using a cpap or bipap or any thing like that and you feel that you still aren’t feeling rested during the day, ask your doctor about Nuvigil. I would if I were using a cpap.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sleep Apnea and the Christmas Holidays

The Christmas holiday season seems to get longer every year. Now it starts before Thanksgiving and ends after New Years. If you are trying to watch your weight, continue to exercise and get the proper amount of rest, the Christmas holiday season can be tough and it can be especially tough on sleep apnea sufferers.

People who have sleep apnea never get enough sleep or rest, so why should the holiday season be that rough on them. Because if you are like me, your sleeping routine and your eating routine is severely thrown out of whack. Christmas is such a busy time and there is so much to do that you don’t seem to have enough time to do it all. This creates stress, which is enemy of rest. If you are stressed out you probably wouldn’t sleep that well and that in turn will make you even more stressful. Now add sleep apnea to the mix, and you become even more tired.

As for your eating routine, you can usually forget about keeping to any strict diet because there are just too many temptations such as office parties where there us a lot of food and Christmas dinners at home where you always cook way too much food. Don’t even mention desserts!

I know that I have gained some weight this holiday, which makes my sleep apnea worse and I can really tell the difference during the day.

While the holidays are always a great time to be with families and friends, it isn’t always a great time if you have sleep apnea.

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