Sleep Apnea

Essay by aprilrainCollege, UndergraduateA+, August 2008

download word file, 4 pages 3.0

The Greek word "apnea" literally means "without breath." There are three types of apnea: central, mixed, and obstructive. In central sleep apnea, the brain centers responsible for breathing fail to send messages to the breathing muscles. In mixed sleep apnea, there is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apneas, and of the three,obstructive is the most common. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and closes the airway during sleep. Despite the difference in the root cause of each type, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night, and often for a minute or longer. I once took care of a 84 year old patient that had obstructive sleep apnea. I can remember when I used to watch him while he slept during the night, and count how many seconds he would stop breathing.

It was a scary thing to watch because sometimes he would stop breathingfor a whole two minutes. I saw the sadistic cycle he went through every night while he slept. With each apnea episode, he would wake himself up, then fall asleep again. This cycle would happened 100 - 150 times a night. I noticed his sleep pattern was severely disrupted, and during the day he would be irritable and tired from not sleeping all night. Moreover, there was no escaping the inevitable. The apnea episodes would even happen as he took afternoon naps. As I continued to take care of him, I learned more about the sleep disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea is very common, as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institute of Health. Risk...