Obstructive sleep apnea is a big health problem in our country today; nearly seven percent, or almost 1 in 15 people living in the United States today has some form of sleep apnea, while only 20 percent of those patients are getting the proper treatment. Apnea comes from a Greek word that means “want of breath” and in the case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, it is due to the airway becoming blocked during sleep. Fortunately there are effective treatments available and the symptoms can be corrected. When we sleep, the body relaxes but the airway in the upper throat stays open for breathing. Sometimes though, the relaxation causes an obstruction that causes an apnea. Snoring is produced when air tries to pass through that narrow or blocked airway and is a good indicator that someone has apnea. Sleep apnea is dangerous because it causes oxygen levels to drop, sometimes to dangerous levels. Continuous low levels of oxygen can lead to damage in the brain and other organs.
Generally a person suffering from sleep apnea will gasp following a period of pause in breath, waking them. This pattern is typically continuous while the patient sleeps leading to drowsiness during the day and not waking up refreshed. Poor performance is school or work, auto and other accidents can occur from not getting enough, quality sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in other, more serious health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and depression.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age but as with most conditions, there are risk factors that can be noted and some that can be treated. The most common risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Being over the age of forty
- Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
- Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
- Having a family history of sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
- Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, though sleep apnea can be hard to diagnose, (as most people are awake for doctor visits), the condition can be successfully managed and treated in most patients.
As with any other condition, chiropractic neurology is an attractive option for many patients as it is non-invasive way to examine the brain and finding effective ways to treat patients through the brain-body connection, shows marked improvement in how the nervous system and entire body works. By specializing in treatment plans targeted to each patient and without the use of drugs or surgery, patients experience progress and alleviation of symptoms without side effects. If you have ever wondered if chiropractic neurology is right for you, call Dr. Ellis and his team at the Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center for a consultation today.
For more information on sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, click here to visit the Sleep Disorders Guide website.