Can Sleep Apnea Cause Heart Diseases?

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Sleep Apnea And Heart Diseases

Sleep apnea can be simply defined as one of the most common sleeping disorders that results in a momentary stop in breathing, which happens regularly while you are asleep. If you or any of your loved ones are regular or loud snores, then there is a good chance of you developing this sleep disorder at some point in your life. Therefore, you will need to take necessary preventive steps to stop or reduce your snoring issues.

Most healthcare providers will initially ask you to make a few lifestyle changes and cut the consumption of dairy products to stop snoring. However, if these snoring solutions do not work for you, healthcare providers might ask you to use a snoring mouth guard while you are asleep. These efficient and medically proven snoring solutions will help you relieve yourself from snoring and sleep apnea at a rapid pace.

It is significant to note that some individuals hope that their snoring issues will be solved with the passage of time. The reality is that snoring issues will get a lot more dangerous if you fail to take necessary steps to prevent them. Moreover, recent studies conducted by experts in the field of medical science revealed a shocking conclusion that patients who suffer from sleep apnea are at a higher risk of falling prey to heart diseases.

An expert molecular cardiologist, David Van Wagoner, Ph.D. talked about the relation between sleep apnea and snoring and said, “It’s likely that sleep apnea can cause arrhythmias and heart failure because if you have sleep apnea, you tend to have higher blood pressure.” You might be a little bit surprised to hear the fact that approximately 50 percent of individuals with atrial fibrillation or heart failure have developed sleep apnea.

Reena Mehra, MD, Director of Sleep Disorders Research in the Sleep Center of the Neurologic Institute at Cleveland Clinic said, “There is a very strong association between sleep apnea and cardiac arrhythmia. Research also shows episodes of upper airway collapse in sleep apnea may trigger arrhythmia events.”

Dr. Mehra added, “It is important to note that typical obstructive sleep apnea symptoms such as daytime sleepiness are sometimes absent in heart failure. Also, symptoms of central sleep apnea are oftentimes more difficult to detect.”

How to Measure the Amount of Sleep in a Snorer

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Measuring Amount Sleep

Snoring is the condition in which the affected person makes a sound due to the vibrations of the soft tissues in the throat. This vibration happens because of restricted airflow while breathing during sleep. There are different levels of snoring though; it can be mild as well as fatally serious. That is why you should never take the health issue lightly and seek medical attention as soon as the symptoms are noticed.

Levels of Snoring

Snoring, that occurs due to a mild resistance in the airflow within the upper airways, is not associated with any sleeping disorders. However, if the resistance is increased again, the awakening from sleep will get more prominent. Still, this is not that serious to cause a decrease in the level of oxygen in the blood and this condition is known as respiratory effort related arousal.

If the resistance increases even more, it will be hard to maintain the proper oxygen level in the blood as a result of the body’s efforts to provide adequate ventilation. This makes the affected person’s sleep more fragmented and there will be frequent disruptions during sleep. This condition is known as hypopnea syndrome.

Ideal Tests to Measure Sleepiness

MSLT (Multiple Sleep Latency Test)

This test will help to measure how fast someone will fall asleep during the daytime. MSLT is usually conducted after doing a sleep study for the night and the test comprises of at least 4 to 5 naps that last for 20 minutes within a frequent interval of two hours.

The average time required for the person to fall asleep in all these tests are taken into account – 10 minutes or more is considered as the normal time required for a person to fall asleep. If the person takes only 5 minutes of below to fall asleep, it is a sign of excessive sleepiness.

MWT (Maintenance of Wakefulness Test)

This test also measures the daytime sleepiness. Here, the patient is instructed to stay awake and 4 sessions comprising of 40 minutes with an equal interval of two hours is conducted. This test is especially done in employees in the Department Of Transportation like pilots, drivers, etc.

Why Snorers Must be Evaluated

As said, you must not take your snoring problem lightly; it can be an indicator of many serious medical conditions too. For instance, sleep apnea or gasping for breath during sleep may indicate heart-related problems, while jerking movements while sleeping may be a signal of restless leg syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder. Hence, it is necessary to conduct a sleep study to rule out these fatal disorders.

The Link between Asthma and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Sleep Apnea And Asthma

Apnea and asthma are quite common in kids and adults. Having either one of the health conditions may increase the likelihood for the other one to develop in people. In case, one suffers from both asthma and sleep apnea, it will have an influence on how the person responds to treatment options for both.

One reason for that is apnea and asthma have some common risk factors, that increase the likelihood one may develop, either of the conditions or make it tough to manage one condition if one exists. Obesity or being overweight, nasal allergies to dust mites, GERD, and metabolic risk factors of obesity including diabetes are associated with asthma and OSA.

People suffering from severe asthma, in particular, are prone to develop Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Likewise, it may prove to be tough to get asthma in check if sleep apnea is left untreated in a person. Henceforth, apnea patients run the risk of being susceptible to develop asthma over time.

Both health conditions affect the breathing process. OSA is a form of sleep-disordered breathing that occurs when the upper airway collapses recurrently during sleep, which blocks the free airflow. The flow of air is lessened in case of asthma as well, but typically in the lower airways that supply oxygen to the lungs. Asthma-related breathing difficulty will not occur only in sleep usually, but the symptoms do tend to worsen at night.

Once the flow of air is partially blocked, it leads to swelling of the tissues, inflammation, and oxidative stress, which is characterized by a response to sudden increases in the oxygen levels. These responses to asthma and OSA symptoms are quite similar.

If one part of the respiratory tract is blocked, it will make the respiratory tract’s other parts susceptible to collapse at night or prone to inflammation indicate research. This may prove to be an even serious concern if one has shared risk factors of both asthma and apnea.

Both conditions can cause disruptions during sleep if the symptoms are not kept in check, which may lead to not feeling properly rested or refreshed, and lapses in concentration in the daytime. Getting sufficient sleep is significant to manage the associated symptoms. Besides, some researches even indicate that treating OSA in time may improve consequences of asthma if the patient responds well to the apnea treatment.

Sleep Apnea Linked to Fatty Liver, New Studies Suggest

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Sleep Apnea And Fatty Liver

New studies have revealed a strong link between obstructive sleep apnea and fatty liver disease. The studies have found out that people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea tend to experience various liver diseases, mainly fatty liver. Both sleep apnea and the fatty liver disease affects a majority of the population in the country. Due to this, the occurrence of these two conditions and their relation has become widespread amongst the population.

It was only recently that researchers found an underlying link existing between sleep apnea and fatty liver disease. In the study, the researchers took a sample of obese individuals who also had sleep apnea. The studies based on this sample then confirmed that many of the individuals with sleep apnea had developed fatty liver disease. It also brought out that the severity of fatty liver disease increased with that of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea had already been linked to various diseases and conditions that affect different body systems such as cardiovascular, respiratory system, etc. According to the latest studies, sleep apnea also results in the development of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in an individual.

What is Fatty Liver?

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) refers to the accumulation of fat deposits in the liver among those who consume little or never drink alcohol. Complications that occur in the disease can cause the liver to inflame and scar, which then leads to the development of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). Fatty liver that progresses to Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis can result in serious complications such as liver cancer, liver fibrosis, and liver cirrhosis.

Sleep Apnea and Fatty Liver

Researchers are trying to identify exactly how sleep apnea worsens fatty liver disease in an individual. However, they have pinpointed one way in which sleep apnea causes fatty liver. When sleep apnea occurs, it can severely reduce the oxygen levels that enter into the blood. The low level of oxygen in the blood can cause oxidative stress that directly affects the functioning of the liver thus worsening liver diseases.

Moreover, other studies have also confirmed that sleep apnea causes fatty liver in young children. This study published in the Journal of Pediatrics has found out a solid relationship between sleep apnea and fatty liver disease for about 60 percent of the children.

One way of treating the development of fatty liver is by alleviating Obstructive Sleep Apnea in the individual. There are various snoring solutions available out there, which can help to prevent sleep apnea and limit its effects on health. Regular usage of such anti snoring devices can permanently eliminate sleep apnea and in turn allow the liver to continue its normal functioning.

Is your Mattress or Pillows Contributing to Snoring Issues?

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Snoring And Pillow

When one falls asleep with an open mouth, the jaws relax causing the throat tissues to sag. This makes the tissues to vibrate against the roof of the mouth when breathing air rushes past the upper throat. Further, if the upper body of the sleeper is not adequately supported over the course of a long-hour sleep, the partial blockage in the upper airway may aggravate. The lower jaw hangs loosely, which further constricts the upper airway causing loud snoring.

A mattress may contribute to nighttime snoring while one sleeps on the back, and especially if the mattress does not provide full support to neck and back. If the mattress is too soft, it may not provide sufficient spine support while sleeping. Although, a plush mattress may offer soft surface comfort for sleepers it may not provide adequate support to keep the upper body in an elevated position.

Elevating the head can encourage the jaws and tongue to advance forward, which may potentially clear the snoring problem. However, your mattress needs to support the spine in order to achieve the right head height to clear constricted airway and alleviate snoring.

If you are using even an old mattress that is beginning to sag, it may not help align the spine correctly when sleeping. Further, the sleeping position may even cause the upper airways to become constricted, and snoring to erupt.

In order to reduce loud snoring and avoid a distraction to your bedmate, you have to make sure the mattress conforms to the cervical and lumbar spine curve. Further, you need to ensure that the upper spine is kept straight on the bed in all sleeping positions in order to keep the airways open. The matters should support the neck and head, in particular, to facilitate the air to pass.

If your mattress sags excessively to cause a partial blockage in the upper airway, you should consider changing the mattress. However, you need not go for a firm mattress since that may not support the back curve and may even cause a back pain and shoulder pain. Sleep specialists suggest using medium firm, latex mattresses as the best option to support the lumbar spine and cervical spine forming the upper body. Alternatively, you can place a wedge pillow over the sagging bed.

Gadgets and Devices for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the trouble in breathing that is caused due to the obstruction of the airways. Obviously, the main aim of OSA treatment is to open these airways and allow smooth breathing, especially while sleeping. There are many devices and gadgets to achieve this. Some of them are listed below.

Position Pillows

Position pillows are one of the easiest and comfortable ways to get instant relief from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. These pillows are designed in such a way that it can be used either with a CPAP machine or without CPAP machine. Position pillows come in a variety of shapes including a wedge shape, which will help to raise the upper body of the snorer.

The American Sleep Apnea Association recommends the snorers to use foam wedges instead of soft pillows. This will enable the affected person to sleep on the back keeping the body elevated from the upper portion of the waist. This will prevent the airways from collapsing.

Position pillows that can be used along with CPAP machine, will keep the neck and head of the snorer in such a way that the airways will remain open always. On the other hand, position pillows with CPAP machine are meant to be more comfortable, when you wear the mask.

Tennis Ball

Most people sleep on their back causing their tongue and other soft palates to fall and rest against the back of their throat, obstructing the airway. This will result in snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. You can tackle this problem by sleeping on your sides.

Some doctors suggest sewing a sock filled with tennis balls to the backside of your trousers when you sleep. According to a recent survey, out 38 out of 50 people has shown improvement in the quality of their sleep after using this tennis ball technique.

Nerve Stimulation Devices

A hypoglossal nerve stimulator can help when the tongue or other soft palates rest against the back of your throat. This is a small device inserted into the affected person’s chest through a minor surgery. This device can be operated very easily; when you are going to sleep turn on this nerve stimulator using a small remote and switch it off once you wake up.

The main task of this nerve stimulator is to monitor your breathing patterns and to send the signals to the nerves, according to that pattern. The nervous system will control the tongue and other muscles accordingly, once it gets these signals. This way, nervous system stimulators will keep the airways open and allows you to breathe effortlessly.

How to Get Used With Side Sleeping to Alleviate Mild Snoring

Snoring Remedies

Alleviate Mild Snoring

People tend to snore mildly when sleeping on the back or in the supine position. If that is the case with you, changing the position to side sleeping may help alleviate snoring. In fact, positional therapy has been around for a long time being one of the easiest snoring remedies to try.

When people sleep at night, the jaws relaxes and throat tissues recede back into the mouth, which creates a partial blockage in the upper airway. When one inhales air in such a situation, the throat tissues and the roof of the mouth vibrates creating the snoring sound. The snorers remain unaware of the problem, but the bedfellow may come to know about it and suggest visiting a doctor.

Sleep specialists recommend positional therapy in order to reduce snoring. However, there are some challenges with getting used to a new position on bed apart from supine position. If snorers complain of trouble finding it tough to acclimatize with the position, they can talk it to the doctor in the compliance therapy.

One of such concerns, which snorers face while sleeping on the side, is rolling back on to a former position in the middle of sleep. If you also talk about the concern with your doctor, he or she will recommend you to use a tennis ball to deal with the concern as a form of compliance.

One of the easiest tricks to eliminate falling over on the bed to back sleeping problem is to sew tennis balls into the back of the night suit. Placing 2 or 3 tennis balls in a way it runs along the spine might just avoid rolling over the bed back to supine position. If you try to do that unknowingly during sleep, the tennis balls will remind you subconsciously that the new position may not be comfortable to sleep.

Moreover, one tends to return to side sleeping position without even waking up from sleep. You can also create pockets in the pajamas that are sufficiently large to insert and remove the tennis balls while sleeping on the side. This will ensure the tennis balls stay intact over the course of a 5 to 7 hour sleep without falling off in the middle of the slumber. If you are a somewhat overweight adult, however, try using a softball instead of the tennis ball to get used to side sleeping.

How Overbite in Children Causes Snoring

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Overbite in Children

Braces put on teeth not only straighten teeth misalignments, but may also correct a misaligned jaw in children. If your child has an underbite, crossbite, or even an overbite, they will have braces put on teeth to change physical appearance due to being beauty conscious, especially in the public eye.

An excessive overbite makes the lower jaw to recede into the back of the mouth during sleep and that may block the upper throat and the airway that supplies oxygen to the lungs. This will cause breathing difficulties when your child sleeps. When he or she inhales air while asleep, the throat tissues and the roof of the mouth vibrate due to the constricted airflow, and that leads to snoring.

The jaw misalignment and obstructive sleep apnea are related in the sense that if snoring is left untreated it will cause the sleep disorder. Apnea in children is characterized by heavy breathing, loud snoring, breathing pauses, and snorts. The partial blockage of the airway causes a reduction in the oxygen levels in the blood. In fact, it is seen that malocclusion may also lead to snoring and other sleep disorders.

Call it a blessing in disguise, but one of the remedies for mild to moderate apnea with loud snoring is the braces put on teeth. It helps correct the malocclusion in children, which can itself reduce breathing difficulty and alleviate snoring. Further, since the mandible of children is small it can also narrow down the airway opening.

Once the overbite gets corrected by wearing braces as per the duration recommended by the doctors or close to that, the upper airway will open to an extent and your child will have a better sleep in comparison. Moreover, as per the severity of overbite and the age of the kid, the braces are put on teeth alongside an orthodontic retainer.

For instance, older kids tend to rely on orthognathic surgery in order to correct the misalignments in the jaw or skeletal disharmonies linked to apnea. The surgeons performing the corrective jaw surgery use a series of screws and plates to hold the jaws in a secured position. This is done to clear the improperly aligned jaws in older children. However, if your child cannot bear the pain of such surgeries to clear an overbite, it is better to wear braces as recommended.

Types of Pillows That Claim to Reduce Mild Snoring

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Snoring And Pillow Types

An anti-snoring pillow might help to reduce snoring in due course as per your sleep position. If you snore mildly at night, try any of the pillows that claim to lessen the snoring sound. The notion behind pillows meant to alleviate snoring is that once snorers are aligned on a side-sleeping position, mild snoring lessens over time. When one sleeps on the back, slack-jawed with an open mouth, tongue relaxes to the mouth’s back. This partially obstructs the airway and leads to snoring.

Wedge Pillow

Such types of pillows raise the upper body and position the spine to keep the said airways open. In addition to that, since it is slightly slanted, the pillow can help reduce conditions such as acid reflux and clear an airway obstruction in the upper throat due to that. This is one of the reasons, why it has a reputation of reducing snoring whilst giving a peaceful sleep.

Contour Pillow

Such memory foam pillows that are curved have the backing of clinical tests. The elevated middle portion of a contour pillow and the indentation of the shoulder keep the head at an ideal height for sleeping. Such types of snoring pillows have a curvy design that helps keep the airway in the back of the mouth open. It helps cure snoring in the same tried and tested stop snoring principle of elevating the head.

Latex Foam Pillow

The benefits of sleeping without having to snore can be experienced by the bedfellow than the snorer who is unaware of the problem. If you only have mild to moderate snoring, try one of these pillows to sleep peacefully. However, the one you choose depends on your comfort level. For instance, latex foam pillows are firm than contour pillows featuring memory foam.

It provides a support that helps to ‘contour’ the head. Look for such kinds of pillows with a wavy design in order to keep the airways open while you sleep. Many people feel that pillows made of latex foam helps lessen the turning and tossing of the head on bed.

Having said that, anti snore pillows are advisable for soft snoring. If you suffer from a sleep disorder like Obstructive Sleep Apnea characterized by loud snoring, you should try snoring solutions like an anti snore mouthpiece. The mouth guard works to clear the airway obstructions by keeping the lower jaw forward, and helps to ease snoring within a few weeks’ use.

Factors that Make Even Fit People to Snore During Sleep

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Factors Affecting Snoring

Most athletes need at least 7 to 8 hours sleep each night to rejuvenate after a rigorous day spent entirely on training workouts. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep without disruptions like snoring or sleep apnea symptoms makes the body energetic. For the top-flight athletes, only best performance translates to accolades in their respective sport. Henceforth, each athlete should monitor their sleep pattern and quality of sleep, and understand how it affects their performance.

There is a perception that loud snoring only affects those who are overweight and that it is the fat build up in the neck that causes snoring. However, snoring is not a condition that discriminates. It can affect anyone.

In case of professional athletes, the heavy workouts make the body tiresome. That may make the muscles in the throat and neck to relax during sleep. When that happens, the soft tissues in the back of the mouth recede and close down the upper airway partially. The narrowness of the airway in the upper throat makes the tissues to vibrate against the roof of the mouth while breathing.

Moreover, the snoring sound may be soft or loud depending upon the shape of the nasal cavity and the size of the tongue. Notwithstanding nasal congestion, cold, or seasonal allergies that make nighttime breathing tough, even your sleep position may induce snoring. For instance, if you sleep on the back it may make the tongue to recede back and create the constricted airway during sleep.

While it is true that overweight individuals are prone to snore due to the fat build up in the neck, even fit people may suffer from it. Highest earning athletes sleep 10 to 12 hours a day and avoid sleeping in late to get adequate rest. However, just the fact that they stay fit and grow thin with ample exercise does not necessarily mean that snoring may not happen to athletes.

To keep up with the pace of the work and lifestyle, athletes can opt for a snoring guard similar to the sports guards they wear over the teeth to protect from blows to the face. The scientifically proven snoring remedy clears the airway obstructions by advancing the lower jaw, which avoids the tongue relaxing and blockages of the airway. In addition to the mandibular advancement device worn on the jaws, even changing the sleep position would help to alleviate snoring.