An Overview Of Sleep Apnea And Its Affect On Seniors

  • December 12, 2019 BY  Anthem Seniors
  • Anthem Senior Living

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder in sleep mainly caused by repetitive upper airway obstruction with some of its primary symptoms being snoring, decreased cognitive functioning, daytime sleepiness, etc. Insomnia is the most common sleep problem among senior people. Sleep apnea is another problem that sometimes goes undiagnosed. The main types of sleep apnea include obstructive sleep apnea (the most common form), central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea syndrome. See your doctor if you think you might have sleep apnea as treatment can ease your symptoms and might help prevent problems related to the ticker and other complications.

If your senior loved one is suffering from mobility or memory problems, better that you book a suite at the award-winning Anthem Senior Living. We ensure our residents follow a healthy diet as according to research, nutrition can play a huge role in both quality and quantity of sleep.

Risk Factors:

While there are different types of sleep apnea, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which occurs when throat muscles relax which over time can result in cardiovascular disease, memory problems, high blood pressure, stroke and depression. A person with OSA is also at a higher risk for accidents and injuries since OSA can also lead to chronic sleep deprivation. Some of the risk factors for OSA include smoking, alcohol consumption, large tonsils, small upper airway, age over forty years, excess weight, a narrowed airway, being male, etc.

Signs and Symptoms:

Daytime drowsiness is a classic sign of sleep apnea, other symptoms include loud snoring, irritability, morning headache, memory loss, sadness or depression, waking with a dry mouth, difficulty concentrating while awake and difficulty staying asleep (insomnia). Talk to your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of sleep apnea for further testing.

Diagnosis and Treatment of OSA:

Diagnosing OSA usually means evaluating your condition based on your signs and symptoms through an examination and tests. For further evaluation, your healthcare provider may refer you to a sleep specialist. Talking about physical examination, your doctor will assess the back of your throat, mouth and nose for extra tissue or abnormalities. Home sleep apnea testing and Polysomnography are the tests to detect OSA.

Treatment options include

  1. Adopt healthy lifestyle measures like exercise regularly, don’t sleep on your back, drink alcohol moderately, quit smoking, etc.
  2. Therapies include positive airway pressure (an effective treatment), mouthpiece (oral devices are an alternative for some individuals with mild or moderate OSA).
  3. Surgeries or other procedures include upper airway stimulation, surgical removal of tissue, surgical opening in the neck (tracheostomy), implants (this minimally invasive treatment is recommended only for people with mild OSA). Nasal surgery and surgery to remove enlarged tonsils are other types of surgery that may help reduce snoring and sleep apnea by clearing and enlarging air passages.

Apart from detecting the presence of OSA, sleep studies allow healthcare providers also identify its severity that helps to determine treatment protocols.