Sleep apnea is the most characteristic symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS), which affects up to 5% of the adult population.
Sleep apnea may cause hypoxemia (little oxygen in the blood ), inspiratory effort, and repeated micro-awakenings.
Gravity is proportional to the frequency and duration of the apneas.
The nocice of nocturnal apnea is due to its complications:
Sleep apnea from OSAS is caused by airway collapse and partial closure of the hypopharynx; it follows a very intense inspiratory muscle effort, necessary to re-open the air flow.
Reduction of pharyngeal musculature and excess soft tissue (especially fatty tissue ) are implicated .
In the context of the Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome, snoring and drowsiness or excessive daytime weakness are also highlighted .
The published material is intended to allow quick access to advice, suggestions and remedies of a general nature that doctors and textbooks are used to dispense for the treatment of Night Apnea ; these indications must not in any way replace the advice of the attending physician or other health specialists in the sector who are treating the patient.
What to do
The first thing to do, when in doubt of suffering from sleep apnea, is to undertake a diagnostic procedure.
- Contact your primary care physician.
- In the meantime, try to identify any signs and symptoms to be associated with sleep apnea:
- Snoring .
- Daytime weakness.
- Sudden sleep shots .
- Dry mouth upon awakening.
- Mood alteration .
- Poor concentration .
- Urinary incontinence .
- In children, growth retardation .
- Body mass index > 29.
- Neck circumference > 43 or 41cm (males and females).
- Deviation of the nasal septum , hypertrophy of turbinates , tonsillar etc.
- Perform a polysomnography (usually required directly by the primary care physician or OSAS specialist center). This exam is able to:
- Detect apneee and hypopneas.
- Classify the disorder.
- Recognize the phase of sleep in which they occur.
- At the discretion of the specialist, perform an electroencephalogram , detection of eye movements and limbs.
- If overweight , reduce body weight by 10% immediately .
- Sleep in a lateral position.
- Dine long before sleep.
- Drinking alcohol away from sleep and in moderation anyway.
- At the discretion of the specialist, take specific medications.
- Use specific machinery.
- If necessary, take advantage of the surgery.
What NOT to Do
- Ignore or underestimate night sleep apnea.
- Increase weight or stay overweight.
- Sleep in a supine position .
- Dine and drink alcohol close to sleep.
- Eat a lot before going to sleep.
- Drink alcohol before sleep.
- Take sedatives .
- Smoking a lot.
- Avoid using the CPAP (nighttime ventilation device) prescribed by your doctor.
- Avoid surgery recommended by the doctor.
What to eat
Remembering to chew carefully, we underline the importance of:
- Consume small portions and, on the whole, a fairly light dinner.
- To prefer easily digestible foods:
- Low fat, then only lightly seasoned; in the case of cheese , choose lean ricotta and light milk flakes .
- If proteic, medium cooked (not blood or even overcooked).
- If predominantly carbohydrates , with the right amount of fiber(portions less than 300g of vegetables , cereals and legumes possibly decorticated).
- Cooked with systems that facilitate digestion:
- Little spicy.
- Little savory.
What NOT to eat
Before sleep it is necessary to avoid:
- Abundant meals.
- Large portions of milk.
- The foods high in fat , especially the fast-food , fried or fried and junk foods in general.
- Foods too rich in indigestible fibers : for example large portions of stewed or raw legumes.
- Foods that delay the emptying of the stomach, increasing the chances of an ascent of acidic juices ( gastroesophageal reflux and regurgitation ).
- Carbonated soft drinks that increase the amount of air in the gastric sac.
In addition to the correction of lifestyle (diet, sleep position, etc.), natural remedies for nocturnal apneas are few and not too effective. Some are:
- Nasal plaster: it should increase the flow of air through the nostrils.
- Herbal tea or valerian extract : improves the quality of sleep but does not intervene on the mechanism of sleep apnea.
- Essential oils : they promote the dissolution of the mucus and tend to blur the mucosa of the upper airways. They can moderate snoring but it is not said that they act positively on OSAS.
Stimulants that act on the symptom of daytime lethargy favoring nighttime rest; they do not intervene on the cause:
The prevention of sleep apnea, OSAS and complications involves:
- Avoid overweight.
- Eventually, lose weight with a balanced hypocaloric diet and physical exercise.
- Eat a little in the evening hours and avoid counterproductive practices (alcohol, cigarettes, etc.).
- Perform the most appropriate diagnostic analyzes.
- Take advantage of pharmacological therapies and other medical treatments.
- If necessary, remove surgically the impediments to the flow of the upper airway.
Recommended medical treatments for sleep apnea are:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): it is a specific machine that produces forced air. It should be worn as a mask and connected to a small compressor. It facilitates nighttime breathing even when airway constriction occurs.
- Surgery of the anatomical defects concerning the upper airway: they are in otorhinolaryngology or maxillofacial competence. The most common are: