Sleep Apnea in Older Adults – Types, Symptoms & Treatment | AU Small Finance Bank
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Sleep Apnea in Older Adults

    Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. This disorder can be recognized when one experiences abnormal respiration during sleep.

    People with sleep apnea have multiple extended pauses in a breath when they sleep. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s supply of oxygen, leading to potentially serious health consequences.

    Sleep apnea can occur at any age, however, adults older than 60 years have a significantly higher risk for developing the disease. Because of its prevalence and potential health impact, it is important for people to know its types, symptoms, causes, and treatments.

    • Types of Sleep Apnea

    There are three types of sleep apnea:
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):

    OSA occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes physically blocked. This obstruction causes temporary lapses in a breath.

    • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA):

    CSA happens when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles to start breathing.

    • Mixed Sleep Apnea:

    When a person has both OSA and CSA at the same time, it is referred to as mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.

    • Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

    The most common signs and symptoms of sleep apneas include:

    • Disrupted breathing pattern -  in which a person’s respiration can become labored or even stop for up to a minute at a time
    • Snoring - especially one that is loud and involves gasping, choking, or snorting that may cause a person to briefly wake up
    • Gasping for air during sleep
    • Morning headaches
    • Excessive daytime sleepiness
    • Difficulty in paying attention while awake
    • Irritability
    • Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

    It can be tough to identify sleep apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. However, you can discover this condition by asking your bed partner or any other family member to observe your sleep habits. If you are alone, you can record yourself during sleep.

    • Effects of Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea, if left untreated, can increase the risk of health problems. It can give rise to:

    • High blood pressure
    • Heart failure, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks
    • Stroke
    • Diabetes
    • Headaches/Migraine
    • Daytime fatigue
    • Depression etc
    • Treatment

    You can treat mild sleep apnea with some lifestyle changes. Here are some easy tips to follow:

    • Lose weight -  a healthy weight can keep your airways clear. It will certainly improve your breathing pattern.
    • Try yoga and meditation-  it will increase your energy level, strengthen your heart, and improve your sleep pattern.
    • Take a comfortable sleeping position - a small change in your sleeping position can improve your night’s rest.
    • Avoid alcohol, smoking, sedatives or tranquilizers – it will not only improve your health but will also relax the muscles in the throat with breathing.
    • Avoid caffeine and heavy meals - within two hours of going to bed to avoid digestion complications while sleeping.
    • Use humidifiers - these devices can add moisture to the air. It can open your airways, decrease congestion and encourage clearer breathing.

    If the above home remedies do not provide any relief, or if your symptoms begin to worsen, seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will usually recommend a sleep study. The study may require the person to spend the night at a special facility, where medical professionals will monitor how often they stop breathing while sleeping. During the observation, they will also check the oxygen saturation level and heart rate. In mild cases, home sleep tests are also a possibility.

    Sleep apnea can affect a person’s mental and physical health. Hence, it is necessary to diagnose the disorder on time so that you get the appropriate treatment.

    Moreover, plan a healthy lifestyle, follow the medical advice and go for regular check-ups to identify any possible long-term effects of sleep apnea. It will help you lead a healthy and productive life for years to come.