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Just Breathe || Sleep Breathing Disorder basics

The most obvious form of sleep breathing dysfunction comes by way of the snore. Yep, the humble, often annoying, snore. Just about everybody snores at some time or another, but often it’s an ongoing problem…not only for the bed partner of the snoring sleeper, but for the snorer, too. Not getting adequate oxygen over several hours at night is simply not conducive to good overall health and can actually lead to health problems if poor breathing at night is not identified and treated.

Sleep breathing disorders move well beyond the range of snores and other noises one might make or hear at night, and include a wide range of conditions–some common, some not–all of which are critical to treat. These include many kinds of health problems related to getting enough oxygen while asleep, such as:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea || OSA (a mechanical disorder of the upper airway)
  • Central Sleep Apnea || CSA (various problems with brain function related to sleep drive and maintenance)
  • Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome || UARS (due to issues like crowded airways, allergies, deviated septum, swollen turbinates, etc.)
  • Hypoventilation problems related to existing respiratory issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], asthma, pneumothorax, or hypoventilation caused by high altitude, etc)
  • Neuromuscular disorders, which can impact the body’s ability to breathe properly (scoliosis, or myasthenia gravis)
If you notice a loved one struggling to get adequate sleep at night, don’t ignore it. Talk to them about your concerns. Encourage them to speak to a physician. Most sleep breathing disorders are treatable, and once treated, those who’ve suffered stand to feel much better and maybe even improve key health measures, like blood pressure, by doing so. 

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