Not to be confused with apnea, hypopnea is the medical term for a disorder characterized by episodes of abnormally low respiratory rates or shallow breathing during slumber. The key difference is this condition may occur while asleep or awake - as a sleep disorder, it may prevent you from getting a good night's rest because of a sudden drop in blood oxygen level. It becomes a problem when airflow reduces by 50 percent or greater for at least 10 seconds, or if it causes you to wake up.
Symptoms and Causes of Hypopnea
This sleep disorder may interrupt your sleep pattern and leave you feeling fatigued and irritable. Other symptoms may include inability to concentrate and mild to severe headaches throughout the day. As with all sleep disorders, hypopnea may cause you to feel extremely tired and constantly sleepy. Severe snoring with episodic choking noises followed by long silences may also be signs of the problem.
The cause varies from person to person and may include nasal passage defects, obesity or being overweight, and old age. Studies also show links between alcohol abuse, smoking, the use of sedatives and onset of the disorder. Worry over any existing connections between causes and symptoms may require the help of a physician or sleep specialist.
Treatment for Hypopnea
Managing the condition depends on severity. While simple habit modifications may be a solution, most cases call for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This, of course, only serves as a supplement in case the root cause is being overweight or obese, or vices like drinking and smoking. It is always best to seek the advice of professionals before taking any action, as severe cases may require surgery.
Disclaimer: These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, and cure or prevent disease. Always consult your physician regarding any sleeping disorders.