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Sleep Apnea Syndrome
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is also called sleep apnea. It is a condition where you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more while you are sleeping. OSAS often happens many times during the night while you sleep. During normal breathing, air enters your nose or mouth, and flows to your trachea (wind pipe) and lungs. Your throat is kept open by muscles, which let the air pass through easily. During sleep with OSAS, the muscles and tissues around your throat relax and block air from passing through. You may wake up many times during the night to catch your breath. You may feel tired and sleepy the next day, and have a hard time doing your usual activities.
- Having a large tongue or neck, a small chin, or nose problems increases your risk of having OSAS. Being overweight or having high blood pressure may also increase your risk. With OSAS, you may snore loudly or wake up choking or gasping for air. You may have trouble thinking and remembering things the next day. Sleep studies and overnight oximetry studies may be needed to check if you really have OSAS. You may need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, mouth devices, or surgery to treat your OSAS. Having OSAS treated will help you sleep better and stay awake and alert during the day. It may also lower your blood pressure and help reduce your risk of having brain and heart problems.
Take your medicine as directed:
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.
- Steroid spray: This is steroid medicine that you spray into each of your nostrils. Steroid medicines help open your air passages so you can breathe easier. Do not stop taking this medicine without your caregiver's advice. Stopping on your own can cause problems.
- Stimulants: This medicine helps you stay awake during the day and feel more alert. This may help you complete your usual activities.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
You may need to come back after a month, and once every year. You may need to have blood taken for tests during your follow-up visits. You may have problems getting comfortable and used to using a CPAP setup while you sleep. You will need to work with a caregiver to find the right CPAP equipment and settings for you.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic drinks or taking sedative medicine before sleeping. This prevents muscles and tissues around your throat from relaxing, sagging, and blocking the airflow to your lungs.
- Lose weight. Losing weight will decrease the size of tissues around your throat. This may help widen your air passages and let air pass more easily through. Ask your caregiver how much you should weigh. Ask him how you can reach and maintain an ideal weight.
- Sleep on your side, or use special pillows designed to prevent OSAS. This prevents your tongue or other tissues from falling into your throat and blocking the air. You can also try raising the head of your bed.
Do not smoke:
Smoking causes lung cancer and other long-term lung diseases. It increases your risk of many cancer types. Smoking also increases your risk of blood vessel disease, heart attack, and vision disorders. Not smoking may help prevent such symptoms as headaches and dizziness for yourself and those around you. Smokers have shorter lifespans than nonsmokers.
Other special instructions:
- Returning to work or school.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You feel very tired or depressed (sad).
- You have trouble staying awake during the day.
- You have trouble thinking clearly.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have worsening chest pain or trouble breathing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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