If struggling with sleep apnea Los Angeles residents need to know that it is a problem that many people struggle with all over the world. The condition is characterized by frequent interruption in sleep. This results from interference in air entry brought about by a collapsed airway. The condition is regarded as clinically serious if there is a minimum of ten episodes each more than 10 seconds per hour.
During sleep most body processes operate at a bare minimum. Most muscles, including those in the airways, are relaxed. These muscles may collapse onto each other and obstruct the airway either completely or partially. When air fails to flow to the lungs the brain is alerted and one wakes up immediately. If the obstruction is just partial, the individual will snore loudly to facilitate air entry. Individuals with apnoea have excessively relaxed airway muscles particularly during at night.
A number of risk factors have been establishes as predisposing to the condition. Old age has featured prominently in a good number of researches. Older individuals have reduced muscle tone. This makes the muscles collapse more easily. This reduced tone may also be caused by other conditions such as traumatic brain injury, neuromuscular disorders, chemical depressants, sedatives and alcoholic drinks among others. A positive family history and excessive smoking have also been implicated.
The most frequent symptom is increased daytime sleepiness. This is an observation made by a close friend, spouse or family member. The patients also snore loudly at night as they struggle to breathe. Other symptoms include memory loss, morning headaches, irritability and mood changes among others. It is important to know that these symptoms may also be present in persons that are not apnoeic and more investigations are therefore necessary.
The severity varies and is graded using what is referred to as the apnea/hypopnea index (abbreviated as AHI). This index refers to the number of cessations (apnoea) added to the episodes of abnormally reduced airflow (hypopnea) within one hour of sleep. The diagnosis can only be confirmed after assessment with a specialist. This is achieved by subjecting the patient to special study. Special equipment are used in this study.
There are several other investigations conducted to confirm the diagnosis. They include electro-encephalopathy (EEG) which assesses brain waves, electromyography (EMG) which monitors muscle tone and heart monitoring using the ECG test. While these are being done the physician observes the movement of the abdomen and thorax and the rate of airflow through the mouth and nose.
There several treatment modalities that are being considered. For mild cases, weight loss is recommended. Positional therapy where one is advised to sleep on their side rather than the back may be helpful among some people. Moderate to severe cases may benefit from the use of mandibular advancement devices. These devices help in maintaining the patency of the airway at night. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is another option.
Currently there is no medical therapy for sleep apnea Los Angeles residents may use. There are several pharmacological agents that are being developed and are in various stages of clinical trials. The agent known as mirtazapine has been shown to reduce sleep apnoea episodes by close to 50%. Sleep disruptions reduce by about 28%. Due to predisposition to obesity and sedation the drug has not been approved as yet. Other agents under consideration are tryptophan, methyl xanthine, fluoxetine and theophylline.
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