Sunday, August 29, 2010

COPD and sleep apnea

It is well known that sleep apnea patients can also suffer from heart disease because of the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat. The supply of oxygen is constantly interrupted which bad on the heart. Another dangerous disorder called COPD also deals with blockage and it also has a connection to sleep apnea.

What is COPD?

COPD or chronic destructive pulmonary disease makes it difficult to breathe and gets worse over time. Coughing that brings up mucus along with a shortness of breath and chest pains are symptoms of COPD. As you can imagine smoking is one of the major causes of COPD along with environment pollution. Blockage of the airway with mucus and the thickening of the airway walls brings on the symptoms of COPD. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are considered 2 forms of COPD.

It is a major cause of death in the USA and usually occurs in middle age people. For more information on COPD go to National Institute on Health’s website.

How is COPD and sleep apnea connected?

Individuals with COPD also have problems sleeping due to excessive coughing and chest pains among other things. COPD patients also have a high rate of obstructive sleep apnea. The term overlap syndrome describes folks who have both copd and obstructive sleep apnea. For more information on the overlap syndrome go to RTmagazine.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sleep Apnea complications

If you suffer from sleep apnea or know of someone who suffers from sleep apnea then you should realize the potential health fallout from this sleep disorder. The problems range from emotional stress all the way to possible death.

Here is a listing of just some of the complications.

  • As you can expect someone with sleep apnea isn’t going to sleep the whole night through without interruption. Sleep Fragmentation is common in other sleep disorders besides sleep apnea but its effects are probably greatest with OSA.  
  • If you have sleep apnea you can expect a drop in energy and a drop in your sex life. Erectile dysfunction is also common with sleep apnea patients. 
  • Without the deep sleep that helps rest the body and revive the brain, your memory will be adversely affected. 
  • Sleep apnea patients have a higher risk of strokes
  • One of my doctors explained why he thought that depression was common among sleep apnea sufferers. “You would be depressed too if you haven’t sleep for years.” 
  • The lack of oxygen caused by the blockage of the airway in your throat is bad news for your brain which depends on that oxygen. 
  • Last but not least sleep apnea patients have a greater chance of getting a heart attack than anyone.

For these complications and others not mentioned it stands to reason that sleep apnea should be taken seriously.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things you should know about the cpap machine

Everyone that has been diagnosed with sleep apnea has probably tried using a cpap mask. While some find it a life saver others view it as a torture device. It definitely isn’t a natural feeling to wear a mask to bed, especially a mask that pushes air into your mouth or nose. If you are thinking about using a cpap mask here are a few things you might want to know about them.

  • The cpap mask can either be full face or just fit over your nose. If you breathe through your mouth then the full mask is for you.
  • One of the reasons I didn’t like the cpap was the noise that it made. Fortunately this issue has been addressed by many of the companies that manufacture cpap machines.
  • One of the fears that I had when I wore a cpap was what if the power went off.
  • Having a beard with a full face mask can be a problem. It is difficult enough to get the mask to fit without any leaks but having beard makes it much worse.
  • Even if you can’t sleep the whole night with the mask on some rest with the cpap is better than none.
  • Some studies have concluded that using a cpap can restore brain tissue.
  • If you have any problems with claustrophobia then the cpap mask might not be for you.
  • In order to keep the air that is flowing into the mask moist a humidifier is used.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why is sleep important?

Why is sleep important? The easy answer is because our bodies and our minds need rest. Without it we would be restless, not alert and probably in a less than happy mood during the day. If you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder like insomnia, narcolepsy or restless leg syndrome then you really know how important sleep is. But is there more to sleep than just rest?

What is interesting about sleep is that it isn’t an inactive time for your body and brain. Everything doesn’t just “shut down”. Sleep is broken down into five stages with the REM stage probably the most well known.

Some of the things going on during sleep

1. muscles and tissues are repaired and the body’s cells are being replaced

2. memory is being processed

3. our body conserves energy

4. dreams occur during the REM sleep stage

Sleep apnea and other sleep disorder patients don’t receive the full benefits of sleep. That is why it is so vitally important to cure any problems that may be hindering the amount of sleep that you receive.

If you want to read more about the basics of sleep go to for more information.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sleep apnea and low blood sugar

Many things can happen to your body when you are sleeping such as good things like resting and rejuvenating your mind and body. Of course if you have sleep apnea those things don’t necessarily occur. When you have sleep apnea there are things that happen that are detrimental to your health. Because of the stoppage of breathing the oxygen in your blood becomes quite low. This in turn sends a signal to the brain to wake up. Low oxygen in the blood can result in low blood sugar and eventually diabetes.

What is low blood sugar?

Low blood sugar or Hypoglycemia occurs when your body’s sugar or glucose is released into the blood stream too slowly or it is used up too quickly. The hormone insulin can also have an effect on low blood sugar. It is created by the pancreas when there is too much sugar in the system.

Besides sleep apnea as a cause alcoholism and live disease can also bring it on. This is a very serious health problem that you should be treated for.

If the sleep apnea can be controlled by CPAP, dental devices or surgery you will find an improvement in your blood sugar. Always consult your doctor on how often you need to have your sugar level checked.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sleep apnea and mental illness

Everyone knows that after a restless night the following day will be challenging. You wouldn’t be as alert as you usually are and your mental capacity will be way off. And of course your less than cheerful mood will probably be noticeable to others around you. If you have sleep apnea than you might be experiencing that every day. Everyone knows about how sleep apnea can cause damage to your heart but it can also bring about mental illness.

I have written before about how sleep apnea can cause depression. If you haven’t slept for years then it isn’t any wonder that you would be depressed. Of course if you are depressed then this could also have a negative effect on your sleeping so it can become a vicious cycle.

Sleep apnea can also affect our ability to remember things and to think in general. Concepts that should be easy to understand might become difficult or impossible to comprehendible with sleep apnea. Constant sleep apnea reduces the size of brain tissue that is associated with thought and memory. Luckily there is evidence that using a cpap might help restore your brain tissue.

Maintaining a good mental health is just another reason to correct your sleep apnea.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nasal Septoplasty and sleep apnea

The main cause of sleep apnea is the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat. This causes you to stop breathing and sounds the alarm for your brain to wake you up. The solution to sleep apnea would seem to be rather simple just keep the airway open in the back of the throat but there are others factors involved besides loose tissue or an enlarged tongue. Many times the problems of sleep apnea involve the breathing that you do or don’t do through you nose. The procedure Septoplasty can help open up the airway in your nose.

Why do I have problems breathing through my nose?

The bone and cartilage that separates your nasal cavity into two nostrils is called the nasal septum. It is not unusual that the nasal septum is a little crooked. A deviated septum can be caused by an injury or heredity. This condition can be a real problem when it has an effect on your breathing through the nose. Many folks have a deviated septum and unless it is severe it isn’t a real problem.

How do you fix a deviated septum?

The procedure Nasal Septoplasty can straighten the nasal septum. According to Wikipedia “Because the deviation is a result of a cartilage and/or bone surplus, the procedure usually involves an excision of a portion of any of these tissues. Under general or local anesthesia, the surgeon works through the nostrils, making an incision in the lining of the septum to reach the cartilage targeted in the operation. Often an "L" strut of cartilage in the dorsal and caudal areas (1 cm width or more) is preserved for structural support. After excess cartilage and bone have been taken out, the septum may then be stabilized with small plastic tubes, splints, or sutures.”

This surgery can be done on an outpatient basis.

While the surgery doesn’t eliminate sleep apnea it should help you breath better through your nose.

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