Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Elder Care in Richmond Hill: Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Have you noticed that your parent snores loudly or sometimes stops breathing for a few seconds or longer during sleep? If so, you may want to talk to your parent’s doctor about sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person either periodically stops breathing during sleep for a short period of time or they have shallow breathing. In people who experience pauses in breathing, the pauses can last for just a few seconds and up to minutes. When they start to breathe again, they may snore loudly or choke.

There are two kinds of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive: This type of sleep apnea is the more common of the two. It occurs when the airway is blocked, which usually happens because the soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxes and falls back during sleep.
  2. Central: This kind of sleep apnea is caused by the brain failing to signal the muscles to take a breath.

Most people don’t know they have sleep apnea, but are alerted by loved ones who notice the symptoms, which include:

  • Loud snoring that happens almost every night.
  • Pauses in breathing.
  • Waking during the night with shortness of breath.
  • Feeling tired during the day.
  • Gasping, choking, or snorting during sleep.

Doctors often have difficulty diagnosing sleep apnea because it only occurs when a person is sleeping. There is no blood test for the disorder.

What are the Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea?

Anyone can have sleep apnea, regardless of age, but there are some things that make it more likely for your parent to have sleep apnea, such as:

  • Carrying too much weight.
  • Being male.
  • A neck size over 17 inches for men and over 16 inches for women.
  • Someone else in the family has had sleep apnea.
  • GERD.
  • Nasal obstruction, such as with a deviated septum, sinus issues, or allergies.

What Happens When Sleep Apnea Goes Untreated?

Sleep apnea can be dangerous if it is not treated. According to the University of Wisconsin Health, the death rate of people with sleep apnea is three times higher than the rate for people without the disorder. Sleep apnea may also lead to other health problems, like:

  • Diabetes.
  • Depression.
  • Heart failure.
  • Stroke.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Headaches.

Can an Elder Care Provider Help?

There are some lifestyle changes your parent’s elder care provider can help them to enact. Since obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea, losing weight can help reduce symptoms or prevent sleep apnea. Your parent’s elder care provider can assist them with losing weight by preparing healthy meals and encouraging physical activity. An elder care provider can also help ensure your parent does not eat too close to bedtime and that they avoid caffeine within two hours of going to bed. If your parent uses a CPAP or other device to reduce sleep apnea symptoms, your parent’s elder care provider can help them to use it properly and keep it clean.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Richmond Hill, contact the caring professionals at Staff Relief Health Care 24/7 at 905.709.1767.

Sources

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-apnea.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea

http://www.uwhealth.org/referring-physician-news/death-rate-triples-for-sleep-apnea-sufferers/13986

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