Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sleep apnea and fainting

If you have ever fainted or felt extremely light-headed you know how helpless that feeling is. You may black out which can be dangerous depending on where you are at or what you are doing (especially if you are driving). Falling can also be a result of fainting which may lead to serious injuries.  It seems that sleep apnea and fainting do have a connection considering the causes of fainting and what sleep apnea does to your heart and general health.

What is fainting?

According to Wikipedia fainting (syncope) is “a sudden, usually temporary, loss of consciousness generally caused by insufficient oxygen in the brain either through cerebral hypoxia or through hypotension, but possibly for other reasons.” So there is a lack of oxygen in the brain that causes fainting (although that isn’t the only cause of fainting) which certainly makes it understandable that sleep apnea could be connected to fainting because the obstruction of the airway in the back stops oxygen from flowing in the body and the brain.

Another important finding coming from the National Institute of Health concerning syncope and sleep apnea…

“A 73-year-old man who had recurrent episodes of syncope. An extensive work-up, including cardiac and neurologic consultations, failed to identify the cause. An objective sleep evaluation led to the diagnosis of sleep apnea. Accordingly, the patient was treated with continuous positive airway pressure, which resolved the syncopal episodes. This case report generates a potentially important hypothesis that recurrent syncope may be effectively treated, in part, by correcting apnea. In patients with recurrent syncope of unknown etiology, a diagnosis of sleep apnea should be considered.”

So it sounds like fainting unrelated to heart problems can be solved by curing sleep apnea at least in this case.

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Sleep apnea and Rick Perry

Sleep apnea can have an effect on just about anyone no matter who you are or what you are doing.  Sports figures like professional football players have had to deal with this problem for quite a while and its no wonder because of the extra weight that they carry around plus the enlarged neck. But you don’t often hear about politicians especially presidential candidates having sleep apnea. This past week there has been talk that Rick Perry has suffered from a sleep disorder (sleep apnea) which may have caused some of the problems he had on the campaign trail.

According to New York Times "Perry had kept in touch with his medical team, and by early October, days after the Florida fiasco, the campaign had urgently consulted sleep specialists, bringing them in to investigate.

"After conducting overnight tests on Perry, they produced a rather startling diagnosis: He had sleep apnea, and it had gone undetected for years, probably decades."

That is certainly understandable because sleep apnea can play havoc with your memory as well as your energy.  Although in another article from the Houston Chronicle Perry denies that the problem was sleep apnea at all he claims it was due to a foot injury and that he was sleeping fine right now.


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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nocturia and sleep apnea

Does the need to use the bathroom wake you up several times each night? If you are like me you probably go quite a few times. This can be particularly irritating especially if you have sleep apnea. It seems that there is a connection between sleep apnea and Nocturia.

Nocturia is when you wake up to urinate. Bedwetting is called enuresis which is different because you don’t wake up.

The vast majority of people can limit their nightly bathroom visits to one time at the most, this is considered normal. Those who have severe Nocturia can go as many as 5 or 6 times. Two or three bathroom visits are about my average. Of course since I have sleep apnea I am usually awake anyway so it really doesn’t bother my sleep routine.

I was always under the impression that the reason you had to go to the bathroom so many times each night was due to a full bladder caused by drinking too many fluids before going to bed. Apparently, there is another reason and it has to do with sleep apnea. Here is a study that suggests that sleep apnea may be the reason for Nocturia.

So here is another reason to get rid of sleep apnea!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Do half of women have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is no longer a secret to most women and men, the effects on their health and mental well-being can be profound and even deadly. The lack of oxygen due to the blockage in the back of the throat not only causes you to wake up constantly throughout the night, it is also bad for your heart. Sleep apnea is often found in folks who have weight issues (although not all the time) and it can also be found in children as well. A recent study comes out with a shocking result saying that over half of all the women may have sleep apnea.

In a Swedish study of 400 women half of them were found to have mild to severe cases of sleep apnea. According to an article inReuters “Among women with hypertension or who were obese - two risk factors for sleep apnea - the numbers were even higher, reaching 80 to 84 percent of women.”

That is really astonishing considering the health risks involved in sleep apnea. What is even stranger is the notion that more men have sleep apnea than women, if that is true than sleep apnea is more of a problem than most folks realize.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nocturnal epilepsy sleep apnea

Did you ever wonder if your sleeping problems were due to something else besides sleep apnea? Apparently there is one thing that is misdiagnosed as sleep apnea and that is nocturnal epilepsy.

What is nocturnal epilepsy?

I have written before about the connections between seizures and sleep apnea. But with nocturnal epilepsy the seizures occur while you are sleeping. There is also nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy that originates from the frontal lobe. Signs that you have had an episode of this are bedwetting, tongue bite, headaches and or being ill tempered during the next day. Medications that are used for regular epilepsy can be used for nocturnal epilepsy.

Is it sleep apnea or nocturnal epilepsy?

Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing during the night due to blockage in the throat (unless it is central sleep apnea) whereas nocturnal epilepsy is night time seizures. Apparently there have been some cases where nocturnal epilepsy has been confused with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and night terrors. Fortunately by having a sleep study done sleep apnea can easily be detected.

For more information concerning epilepsy go to the epilepsy foundation website.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

No get up and go with sleep apnea

Energy or the lack of it seems to be a major problem with just about everybody over the age of 50, maybe even 40. This has really become a hot issue due to the fact that the population as a whole is getting older.  As we get older it our vim and vigor doesn’t last too long and that is understandable because of natural causes and some things that we bring on our own like not eating right and forgetting about exercising.  Another energy zapper is lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep.  As you probably know sleep apnea is one of the biggest sleep problems around.

A night’s sleep can be broken down into 5 stages, with each one being important. sleep apnea can interrupt probably the most vital stage of sleep which is rapid eye movement or REM.  Not only is the body’s muscles rejuvenated during this stage but the brain is active which helps with memory and other functions. These factors can certainly help drain any energy that you may have.

What can you do about lack of energy due to sleep loss?

The best thing that you can do is work on eliminating your sleep apnea either through a type of CPAP or even a dental device depending how bad your sleep apnea is.  Losing weight may not cure sleep apnea but it can lessen the effects of it not to mention make you more healthy. Surgery is also an option but usually it is a last resort.

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