Risk of death from sleep apnea: when snoring becomes life-threatening

Risk of death from sleep apnea: when snoring becomes life-threatening

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Breathing interruptions endanger health
Snoring is not only annoying for the partner. It prevents restful sleep and can be accompanied by breathing interruptions. Doctors call this syndrome "sleep apnea". Those affected should not take snoring lightly. It can lead to high blood pressure and a heart attack.

Snoring can be associated with dangerous interruptions in breathing. If there is loud snoring at night in the bedroom, sensitive bed neighbors can no longer think of sleep. In case of doubt, earplugs or separate bedrooms will help you. But even the snorer himself usually finds no recovery while sleeping. The result is chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, less desire for sex and a headache after waking up. Sometimes snoring is even an indication of serious health problems.

As you snore, the suppository and the palate begin to flutter. Lax tongue and throat muscles are usually the cause of the noise. In some cases, however, anatomical peculiarities such as a small lower jaw, large almonds or a tight smoking cause snoring, explains Ingo Fietze from the Sleep Medicine Center of the Charité Berlin in an interview with the news agency. He advises you to consult a sleep doctor if you are unable to recover from sleep permanently or if the person next to the bed notices breathing interruptions in the person concerned. Lung doctors, internists, neurologists, psychiatrists and ENT doctors are then considered.

Snoring can be an indication of sleep apnea There are two types of snoring: rhythmic and non-rhythmic snoring. While the suppository flaps with every breath and snoring is harmless, non-rhythmic snoring can indicate sleep apnea, as Michael Herzog from the German Society for Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery told the news agency.

In sleep apnea, the noise and the dangerous breathing interruptions are caused by a narrowing (obstruction) of the upper respiratory tract. The upper airways then close more than ten times an hour for at least ten seconds.

Breathing interruptions like this decrease the oxygen content in the brain. As a result, the heartbeat increases and sleep becomes easier. The body is put into a kind of alarm state without the person concerned being aware of it. Most of the time he can't remember it the next morning, but feels sleepy and suffers from the typical extreme daytime tiredness, lack of concentration and exhaustion.

People suffering from sleep apnea do not go into deep sleep for months or more and are at increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack. According to the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), about five percent of adults are affected by obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Significantly more people snore: 30 to 40 percent of 40-year-old men and even around 60 percent of 60-year-olds cause a sometimes high level of noise every night. According to Herzog, women snore after menopause as often as men in the age group.

Treatment options for dangerous snoring In order to find out the exact cause of snoring, sleep doctors can use sleep endoscopy. He examines the patient in imitated deep sleep and tries to identify the source of the vibration. Once this has been established, treatment can take place.

For obstructive sleep apnea, mask ventilation adapted in the sleep laboratory is the standard therapy. Thanks to the so-called pneumatic splinting, so much pressure is exerted on the upper respiratory tract by means of continuous ventilation that the muscles cannot relax during sleep. However, some patients find the noises caused by "artificial ventilation" very uncomfortable. The mask itself also hinders many people from sleeping undisturbed.

Another, relatively new method is the so-called tongue pacemaker, in which a neurostimulator is inserted under the skin just below the clavicle. A cable, which is laid to the costal arch, transmits the movements of the diaphragm and thus the breathing frequency. Another cable with an electrode leads to the hypoglossal nerve, which takes over the activation of the tongue muscles. When inhaled, the tongue pacemaker sends an impulse to the tongue nerve, so that the muscles in the tongue are tense and the airways remain free. The device is switched on with a remote control in the evening and switched off again tomorrow.

In rare cases, an operation can be considered, for example, in which the soft palate is tightened or shortened. "But success depends on the anatomy," explains Fietze.

Protrusion splint can prevent snoring In the case of harmless rhythmic snoring or a mild form of sleep apnea, a so-called protrusion splint can often prevent noise by holding the lower jaw in position or pushing it forward to avoid narrowing of the airways. First of all, however, the dentist should clarify whether the teeth and lower jaw can withstand the stress caused by the splint, Hartmut Rentmeister from the General Association for Chronic Sleep Disorders Germany advises the news agency.

Special backpacks or clothing, into which tennis balls are sewn in the back area, can also prevent the snorer from turning on his back. Elevating the upper body by up to 30 degrees can also be helpful.

According to Herzog, about 90 percent of snores with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. "Many people no longer have sleep apnea syndrome after losing weight."

Author and source information

Video: Body Basics: What is sleep apnea and how does it affect your body? (August 2022).