Sleep Apnea and Aging Do Not Have To Be Connected 

Is there are real connection with sleep apnea and aging that we should be concerned with as we get older?

The answer is a very definitive yes, especially if you are male and on the large side.

However, just like any other medical condition, as we all begin to age, we will fall into most of the major risk groups in some way.

If this condition does develop and you do not get it under control, especially at our ages, if can become a very serious condition.

In fact, if you are male and larger than the average man, if left unchecked, it could very easily take your life.

The Different Types

The connection with sleep apnea and aging will begin with the different types, and if you are just beginning to develop it, this may surprise you.

The reason for this is simple; there is not a lot of discussion about the different types or forms.

Here are the different forms.

  • The obstructive form
  • The central form
  • The complex syndrome form.

The other major factor with sleep apnea and aging is that each form has somewhat different symptoms as well as different underlying causes.

The first two forms have almost identical symptoms and they include the following.

  • Very loud snoring, but slightly worse with the obstructive form
  • A breathing cessation that is very apparent to a loved one
  • Waking up quickly and then an short inability to breath
  • A dry mouth and sore throat when you wake that keeps getting worse
  • A slow and intensifying drowsiness during the day

There is however, something else that most people do not understand with this condition.

Sleep Apnea and Aging and Snoring

Not all people that have it snore.

This shocks a lot of people when they first hear this, but at the same time there are several of us that do not consider snoring to be any type of a health issue.

The connection with sleep apnea and aging continues with the causes of the first form, obstructive.

They include the following:

  • The muscles in the back of our throats begins to relax
  • Because of this, the surrounding areas are not as strong as normal
  • Once weakened, our airways closes when we breath
  • This causes us to “gasp” for air and it also lowers the amount of blood oxygen in our body
  • Our brain than reacts, waking up us suddenly

However, it is not uncommon for us to have no idea we are awake, and go right back to sleep.

This pattern then becomes repetitious, and it will now only be a matter of time before this interruption in sleep begins to take its toll.

Five Friends Enjoying Time TogetherFive Friends Enjoying Time Together

The Central Form Is Less Common

The central form of this condition is far less common, and is slightly different in that our brain does not reaction to the low oxygen levels

Because of this, we may make no effort at all to breath for short periods of time, making it quite dangerous.

The connection with sleep apnea and aging continuous with the risk factors of both the obstructive and central forms and they include the following.

  • Older males
  • Being overweight
  • A larger neck than normal—one of the major risks
  • Excessive alcohol or tranquilizer usage
  • Nasal problems of any kind
  • Smoking
  • Heart conditions—the central form only
  • Strokes—the central form only

While older males are the biggest risk group, older females are also at a risk if they fall into any of the other risk groups.

However, perhaps the largest connection with sleep apnea is being older, overweight, and having a large neck.

A larger neck also means that you will have much narrower airways, and this will affect anyone.

Is The Large Neck The Key

The general attitude in the medical community is any male with a neck larger than 17 inches and any women with a neck larger than 15 inches, is at a much higher degree of risk.

The complex syndrome form of this condition will incorporate all of the above, as it is considered to be a combination of both the obstructive and central forms.

There are also several other troubling aspects, and this includes the potential complications.

As we all begin to get older and pass the 55 year old mark, we are in danger of several medical conditions as our bodies begin to wear down.

The last thing we need is for a sleeping disorder to add to these potentially dangerous conditions.

Here is the list of potentially serious side effects or conditions that can develop.

  • Daytime fatigue that can become severe
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Complications with medications and a surgery
  • Liver problems

We have all experienced some form of daytime fatigue throughout our lives, and in most cases, we could shake it is a couple of days.

We Used To Could Sleep It Off

All it took was a good night’s sleep if we have overextended ourselves with work or life in general.

However, with sleep apnea and aging, we will no longer have that ability for one simple reason; we cannot get a good night’s sleep.

High blood pressure is the next potential problem as the sudden and repetitive drop in oxygen levels slowly begins to increase our blood pressure.

Because of this, it increases the chances of heart attacks and strokes.

This condition also affects our insulin resistance, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

However, one of the biggest potential risk factors other than high blood pressure is with a surgery, as it and any type of anesthesia may be a deadly combination.

Because of this, we may never wake back up.

The good news is that there are several effective treatments and they include the following.

  • CPAP
  • EPAP
  • Oral devices

CPAP, continuous positive airway support is very effective, if it is the mild form, but the mask can become confining and very uncomfortable.

EPAP, expiatory positive airway pressure, is placed over each nostril and is not as confining in nature.

There are also oral devices that your dentist can install to keep the jaws open while sleeping.

However, the best overall defense against sleep apnea and aging is to keep our weight down, control our blood pressure, and quit smoking if you smoke.

References

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea/

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