Q: What is sleep apnea (SA), and why should I worry about it?
A: This condition is simply the temporary cessation of breathing during sleep. While it may sound harmless, SA can severely impair the ability to get a good night's rest, and, according to popular Chicago Tribune article, it may increase the risk of far worse.
Q: What causes SA?
A: The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute says that the most common form of the condition is obstructive sleep apnea. If you have this form of SA, then your soft palate tends to hang down while you sleep, getting in the way of good airflow. This can cause you to snore, snort or stop breathing for seconds or even minutes, the organization warns!
Q: Who gets SA?
A: The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) states that anyone can suffer from SA, including children.
Q: What can I do to minimize my nighttime apnea?
A: Several traditional treatments are available, including over-the-counter mouthpieces and, in serious cases, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which keeps the airway open. Unfortunately, CPAP devices are expensive and uncomfortable.
Q: What other options are there?
Multiple alternative treatments exist. Most healthcare professionals recommend losing some weight, since obese people are especially susceptible to SA. Beyond that, a growing number of people are using yoga, meditation, mindfulness exercises and ki energy techniques to mitigate the worst of their SA. Plenty of Chicago yoga classes are available for individuals interested in engaging in holistic self-healing.
Q: What are the potential long-term effects of SA?
A: The article in the Tribune notes that, in a new study, elderly women with SA and other sleep disorders had a higher risk of developing dementia and memory problems.
Q: How many people have SA?
A: The condition affects as many as 18 million Americans, including 10 million who do not know that they have it, the AARC estimates.