Sleep Apnea: What You Should Know

Oxygen is essential to life. Cutting off oxygen supply to major body organs,

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

even for a few minutes, may cause problems. That is why uninterrupted breathing is vital. First aid for apnea ensures that a person’s oxygen supply is not impeded.

What is apnea?

Apnea refers to the sudden slowing or cessation of breathing. It can affect people of all ages, and may be caused by different factors. There are different types of apnea. One of the most common is sleep apnea, which occurs at night while you are sleeping. Usually, this condition is managed with lifestyle modification and taking certain medications. In some cases, surgery may be recommended. Either way, immediate first aid for apnea should be rendered to ensure adequate oxygenation of vital organs.

Prolonged or untreated apnea can cause lack of oxygen and result in brain or heart problems.

When to seek medical help

In most cases, sudden cessation of breathing occurs in a short period but breathing resumes almost immediately. As such, there are no disturbing symptoms. However, when apnea occurs more frequently, it can result in serious problems. First aid for apnea may be necessary in case where the breathing stops for more than a minute.

Seek professional medical help immediately if the person develops any of the following symptoms:

  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Gasping for air while sleeping
  • Choking in sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Daytime headaches and fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Memory problems
  • Sore throat after waking up
  • Frequent urination at night

First aid for apnea

If someone who is snoring suddenly becomes quiet or has prolonged pauses in breathing, be sure to check if he or she is still breathing. Attempt to rouse the victim. If there is no breathing, call 911 immediately. Open the patient’s airway. Follow the instructions of the emergency operator on how to assist their breathing. Rescue breathing is an important first aid for apnea. Although people with sleep apnea usually resume breathing, prolonged cessation in breathing should a reason for alarm.

In case of severe apnea that may result to damage in major body organs, the doctor may recommend emergency tracheostomy – a procedure to create an opening to the throat. A tube is inserted through the slit (stoma) and facilitates breathing.

Without this emergency procedure, brain cells may die and heart problems may result. Immediate first aid for apnea is crucial in patients displaying acute symptoms. Early treatment and detection is vital in preventing serious complications.


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