Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a health condition which involves the blockage of airways. This prevents people from breathing properly during night time, it interrupts sleep and prevents the oxygen from reaching your brain. When left untreated apnea can increase blood pressure, trigger stroke, heart attack, diabetes and obesity. In addition lack of sleep can also lead to accidents on the road and at the workplace.
It is assumed that more than 18 million Americans suffer from this condition and over 90% of them are not even aware of it. A study lead by Ricardo Osorio of the NYU Langone Medical Center indicates that patients with untreated apnea may also experience a cognitive decline known as mild cognitive impairment.
Snoring is not directly linked with mental decline, but it is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Osorio explained that snoring itself has no negative effect since it can be benign. Actually studies have shown that most people who snore no not suffer from apnea. A study from 1993 published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed snorers with ages between 30 and 60. According to the results 66% of the males and 81% of the females did not suffer from sleep apnea. Only 17% of the males and 7% of the females experienced breath interruption at least 15 minutes an hour. This put their health at serious risks.
Statistics show that 40% of apnea sufferers display the involvement of the tongue base in airway obstruction. This makes them eligible to benefit from the RFA (radiofrequency ablation) procedure. Tongue base RFA sends small amounts of targeted energy in the back of the throat, at the base of the tongue with the help of a non-invasive device. In each session the targeted energy lasts between two to four minutes. Afterwards the area which was treated heals and the tissue is reduced in size and becomes tightened, and so the airways will no longer be blocked the tongue.
Regardless of the fact that they suffer from sleep apnea or not, snorers can take some measures in order to improve their conditions. Extra weight aggravates snoring so losing weight may help. So does avoiding alcohol. Changing the sleeping position can also be of help. People tend to snore more when they sleep on their back, so snorers could try sleeping on their side instead. If this does not work there is the alternative of muscle relaxants or medication which can relax the airway.
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