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Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome

Sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome is a medical name especially used to recognize chronic sleep disordered breathing. OSA occurs when a person finds it difficult to breathe throughout the night. Hypopnea is characterized by shallow and slow breathing, which pressures the airway passage to almost decrease by half, leading to lower oxygen supply to the blood. When you experience a decrease in your breathing and not abrupt pause of breathing, you are more likely to suffer from hypopnea, not sleep apnea.

Connection between OSA and Hypopnea Sleep Disorder

It can be very confusing or baffling to understand the relationship between hypopnea and sleep apnea. Most commonly they are talked about together as if they are a single disorder. Also, the new medical name for the disorder, OSAHS, is a combination of both types of disordered breathing, even when there are medical cases where one can occur without the occurrence of the other.

Almost 20 years ago, there was a lack of proper knowledge to understand the relationship between hypopnea and sleep disorders like sleep apnea, and hypopnea was not well-defined. Thanks a lot to the studies and researches, it is now agreed that hypopnea and sleep apnea are two categories of disordered breathing however in which both results in the decline of oxygen flow to and from the lungs.

It is quite possible that you can have both hypopnea and sleep apnea together, or suffer from hypopnea and sleep apnea independently. To distinguish the disorder the easiest way is to view it as a continuance. Some individuals only have hypopnea (slow breathing), and some sleep apnea (pause in breathing), and some suffer from both types of irregular breathing.

Hypopnea Symptoms

Hypopnea is commonly associated with a decline in the oxygen saturation level of the blood by up to 4% during sleep because of the decreased amount of air inhaled. This usually happens because of a partial block in the airway. Without the proper level of oxygen in the blood, the body’s organs are not able to function properly as they do not get sufficient oxygen.

The decreased oxygen level could primarily lead to:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Lack of concentration
  • Constant fatigue
  • Frequent changes in mood
  • Insomnia type sleep disorders

If hypopnea is left untreated for a long period of time it could lead to:

  • Heart diseases
  • Cardiac stroke or attack

Why You Always Feel Exhausted?

When you are suffering from this type of sleep disorder, your body is not able to get enough oxygen while you are asleep. The brain identifies this and in an effort to improve the condition, the brain disrupts the circadian rhythm and the body awakens to some extent. It is just the necessary movement to help the airway back open so there is a better flow of oxygen to the lungs.

The critical issue here is that this happens many times every night. The brain is never able to go through the necessary sleep cycles it requires and you suffer from chronic fatigue or tiredness.

Get the Necessary Help

Like sleep apnea, hypopnea sleep disorder also has serious long and short term health consequences if left untreated. If you are not able to get a good night’s sleep, it is recommended that you take help from your doctor or obtain an appointment for a sleep study for the necessary treatment.