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Clinical Insights

Sleep apnea: a journey through its many troubles and diseases

It seems incredible, from scientific journals and non, we are continuously learning of new diseases closely correlated with sleep-disordered breathing. There is virtually no organ in the human body that remains unharmed by intermittent nocturnal hypoxia.

The word “apnea” comes from the greek meaning “without breath.” For sleep apnea (OSA) means a temporary cessation of breathing caused by airway closure of the pharynx, lasting at least 10 seconds although it can exceed 1 minute, continuing for up to 100 times an hour!

The saga begins many years before, normally with loud snoring that disturbs our partner. The person concerned may, for many years, have no perception of apnea or snoring, which is one of the most common reasons for separation. But it would be better to go to the doctor rather than the judge!

Sleep normally performs the function of the restoring brain topology: at night you recharge “the brain batteries ” a bit as you do with phones and tablets. When the number of apnea events increases, the restorative function is reduced and the brain suffers the consequences. The night becomes tormented by frequent nightmares, awakenings, choking, palpitations, and mental fatigue on awakening.

Daytime consequences can be headaches, loss of concentration and recent memory, depression, irritability, loss of libido and sometimes impotence. But the worst complication is the marked drowsiness with serious risk of accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel, or in the workplace.

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