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Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder is defined by brief interruptions of breathing while you are asleep. This is a very serious condition, because it can result in high blood pressure, heart problems and stroke. Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea The warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include: 鈥?Loud snoring 鈥?Choking or gasping during sleep to get air into the lungs 鈥?Frequent silences during sleep due to breaks in breathing 鈥?Abrupt awakenings to restart breathing or waking up in a sweat 鈥?Daytime sleepiness, and falling asleep at inappropriate times The Types of Sleep Apnea The symptoms of sleep apnea can be frightening, as you will generally wake gasping for air or feel as if you are choking. There are three types of sleep apnea: 鈥?Obstructive: This is caused by a blockage of your airway, and is the most common form of sleep apnea. This condition occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat collapses and closes when you are asleep. 鈥?Central: In this type, your brain fails to send the signal to your muscles to breathe. 鈥?Mixed: This is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea. If you have this type of apnea and you snore, you may find that treatment intended to help your airway obstructions will not completely stop your episodes. Dangers of Sleep Apnea If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can result in a number of dangerous consequences, such as: 鈥?High blood pressure 鈥?Heart disease 鈥?Cardiovascular disease 鈥?Problems with your memory 鈥?Weight gain 鈥?Decreased productivity in the workplace 鈥?Impotency 鈥?Headaches 鈥?Fatigue during daily tasks that can lead to serious accidents Snoring Vs. Sleep Apnea Contrary to what many people believe, snoring is not the same as sleep apnea. Snoring is a loud sound that you make as you breathe while asleep if your airway is obstructed. Those with sleep apnea are deprived of oxygen due to a complete blockage of their airway, which can negatively impact their health. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. However, just because you snore does not necessarily mean you are suffering from sleep apnea. Tips for Treating Sleep Apnea at Home Minor cases of sleep apnea are often responsive to behavioral treatments that you can try at home. Here are some suggestions for treatment that may ease your condition: 鈥?Lose weight: Those who are overweight and lose as little as 10 percent of their body weight can reduce sleep apnea and improve the quality of their sleep. 鈥?Elevate the head of your bed: Raising the head of your bed between four to six inches can make it easier to breathe and alleviate snoring. 鈥?Stop using alcohol, tobacco and sedatives: Any medication or other vice that relaxes your throat muscles encourages snoring. 鈥?Change sleeping positions: Try sleeping on your side. You can use special pillows or remedies that encourage sleeping on your side. Sleeping on your back encourages sleep apnea, so by changing your position you may find relief. 鈥?Use a nasal dilator, breathe right strips or saline nasal spray: These remedies can help open your nasal passages and allow you to breathe better. 鈥?Maintain regular sleep hours: Atypical and irregular sleep patterns may aggravate sleep apnea. If you or your partner may be suffering from sleep apnea, please visit the website for Michael K. Chung, D.D.S. at Softouch Dental Care in Oakton, Virginia, serving patients in Oakton, Tysons Corner, Reston, Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Washington D.C. and the Northern Virginia area.
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