A loud snore is often funny and people do not really think much of it. But snoring can be a loud manifestation of a potentially serious health problem called sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea? It’s a disorder in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or breathes shallowly as he/she sleeps. The pauses can last for anywhere from a few seconds to as long as a minute or two and may occur up to 30 times within an hour. This “abnormal” pattern ends with a loud snore or choking sound (that can actually jolt the person awake) and then normal breathing starts again. Because of the poor quality of sleep caused by this disorder, people who have sleep apnea tend to feel sluggish and sleepy during the day time; they have a hard time concentrating and can become prone to accidents.
This disorder can affect anybody but it is quite prevalent among overweight people. Most of them suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or OSA where the airway is partially or completely blocked and makes it hard for air to pass into the lungs when they inhale. The small amounts of air that manage to pass through the blockage cause snoring. Due to the abnormal air distribution, people who have sleep apnea are at high risk of developing heart ailments, or suffering a stroke.
Doctors typically treat this disorder by prescribing a diet for weight loss. Studies reveal that obese people who manage to lose 10% of their weight always show significant improvement in the quality of their sleep; snoring is lessened and there are fewer disruptions during slumber.
Another prescribed treatment for sufferers is the use of a mandibular advancement device which holds the lower jaw and tongue forward to create more space for proper breathing and to prevent snoring. Although effective in treating OSA, there are important considerations prior to the prescription of this device because there may be some side-effects to regular use.
For those with moderate to severe OSA, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is very helpful for it delivers air pressure through a mask placed over the nose as a patient sleeps. The pressure of the air from the machine can keep the upper airway passage open and prevents apnea and snoring. This is touted as the most effective treatment but it also has some drawbacks especially when it comes to comfort. There are CPAP alternatives, though, like the EPAP and BPAP; they basically function similarly but there are discrepancies in how air pressure is delivered to the body and in the design of the device used to deliver air pressure.
About the author:
Chelsea Sawyer is a nurse and a certified health coach who has been helping many people in changing their behaviors to keep them focused on achieving their health and fitness goals. She also frequently visits http://www.lifestylemenu.com/ to learn more about treatments of sleep disorders.