Sleep Apnea

Roll over! How many times have you heard or said that at night? Sleep apnea is a condition that should not be dismissed. If you feel tired during the day, have times of drowsiness affecting your activities, or are easily agitated because you are tired, it is serious. If you often wake up during sleep, gasp for air, or have trouble staying asleep, you should seek medical help to determine if you have sleep apnea. Some people with sleep apnea will have symptoms of snoring or irregular breathing, but not everyone does.


Sleep apnea prevents you from achieving sufficient sleep. Your breathing pauses, interrupting sleep and lowering your blood oxygen levels. The effects are far-reaching, increasing weight, blood pressure, and your risk for heart disease. In addition to depriving you of rest and daily recovery, it also deprives your partner.  Your memory and mood may also be negatively affected. Sleep apnea can affect children as well. Snoring whether in an adult or child is not a joke.


There are two main types of sleep apnea, most common is obstructive sleep apnea.  Risk factors include narrowed airways which can be inherited, a family history, excess weight, using alcohol or drugs that relax the muscles in your throat or jaw. More uncommon is central sleep apnea, where your brain fails to signal your body to breathe.  Regardless of the type, sleep apnea is serious and needs to be addressed. Your PharmaChoice pharmacist can review your risk factors and medications, to present to your physician.


If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, discuss this with your doctor.  Start taking note of your sleep, keep a sleep log, or use a sleep tracker. You may have to ask your partner to take notes. In addition to seeking medical attention, you can take steps to remove some of the common causes of sleep apnea.  Losing weight may effectively treat sleep apnea. Avoid alcohol, relaxant, or narcotic medications that can allow your upper airway muscles to relax. Quit smoking to reduce inflammation of your airways. Your pharmacist can discuss smoke cessation products. Sleep on your side, or try elevating your head with a cervical pillow if you are a back sleeper.  


Seek medical attention for sleep apnea, the results will be life-saving. Sleep apnea is serious, don’t waste time finding answers on your own.  Seek proper medical assessment and referral from your physician.

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Kevin Melnyk