You may have snored through the night, felt exhausted even after a healthy eight hours of sleep on a good mattress, or even waked up sluggish. If that's you, it's time to see a doctor.
You may have sleep apnea, and now is the time to make an appointment with your doctor to check it. Sleep apnea is a significant sleep disorder. This occurs when a person's breathing is obstructed while sleeping. Nearly 100 million people worldwide suffer from sleep apnea. Even though sleep apnea is common, it is more often misdiagnosed.
What's Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person's breathing to stop while they are sleeping. This can happen if the upper airway becomes obstructed during sleeping, restricting airflow, and these pauses might occur up to 100 times every hour during the night.
Three Types Of Apnea
Sleep apnea is divided into three kinds, all of which have the same or comparable symptoms.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
OSA is the most frequent of the three subtypes, which is why doctors refer to it as such. The muscles that support the soft palate, tongue, and uvula at the back of the throat.
As a result, when the muscles in the throat contract too much, the tissues collapse back into the throat, obstructing the airway. The person snores due to the partial or complete blockage of the airway.
When your brain detects a lack of oxygen in your blood, it will make you gasp or jerk as it sends signals to your body to wake up so that regular airflow can be restored. When essential organs are not supplied with enough oxygen, cardiac arrhythmia might develop.
Central Sleep Apnea
The more prevalent type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, as opposed to central sleep apnea. This subtype has a reputation for needing help to identify.
In contrast to obstructive apnea, which is caused by a blockage, central apnea is caused by an interruption in the airway.
A breakdown in communication between the brain and the body, or the brain failing to deliver the correct signals to the body, causes central sleep apnea. Many people with central sleep apnea also suffer from additional issues, such as brain encephalitis.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Doctors recently identified complex sleep apnea as the third sub-type, a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.
People who suffer from complex sleep apnea might appear to have obstructive apnea at first; however, unlike those who suffer from it, they do not show all of the symptoms even while using a CPAP machine (Continuous positive airway pressure).
People with complex sleep apnea will have a constant problem with breathing even after getting diagnosed and treated. It indicates that something else contributes to the apnea besides blockage of the airflow.
How Common Is Sleep Apnea?
50-70 million adults suffer from sleep apnea, and over 100 million people worldwide have sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders.
Sleep apnea affects approximately 25% of men and nearly 10% of women. Sleep apnea can affect people of every age group, including older people, kids, children, infants and particularly people over the age of 50 and everyone overweight.
What Causes This Condition?
Physical characteristics can also be a cause. Improper weight, neck size, and a restricted airway are also factors to consider.
Nasal obstruction, a low-hanging soft palate, enlarged tonsils, and a small jaw, smoking, family history, use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquillizers, medical conditions, nasal congestion, thickened tissues, and additional fat stores around the airway, and an underlying neurological problem are all structural abnormalities that reduce the diameter of the upper airway.
Symptoms And Signs You Have A Sleep Apnea
Because the symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas are similar, determining which type you have can be challenging.
The most prevalent indications and symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apneas are as follows:
- Loud snoring
- Pauses in breathing
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Daytime fatigue
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Insomnia (Having some trouble sleeping)
- Hypersomnia ( Immoderate amount of daytime sleep )
- Difficulty paying attention while sober
- Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction
There are a few signs that are less visible than the ones listed above:
- Poor school or work performance or underachievement
- Breathing through your mouth in the daytime
- The inward movement of the ribcage when you inhale
- Sleeping in unusual positions
- Being hyperactive or sluggishness
Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can be treated in two different ways. The first one is conservative treatment, and the second is medical therapy.
People with sleep apnea must adjust their lifestyles; they are necessary for breathing to return to normal and are the most important first steps in treatment. They include:
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet
- Adopting healthy sleeping habits
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Quitting smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Instead of sleeping on your back, sleep (body and mind for a good night's sleep) on your side or abdomen.
Positive airway pressure (PAP) is the most common first-line treatment for many people with obstructive sleep apnea. The patient's nose and mouth are covered with a mask. An air blower gently pushes air via the nose and mouth.
While sleeping, the air pressure is high enough to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing. While PAP therapy prevents airway closure while in use, apnea episodes can recur if it is halted or performed incorrectly.
Positive airway pressure (PAP) devices exist in various shapes and sizes, depending on the patient's demands.
- The CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device is the most extensively utilized of the PAP devices. The machine has only one pressure setting.
- With Bi-Level PAP, one pressure is used during inhalation (breathing in), and a lower pressure is used during expiration (breathing out) (breathing out). Before health insurance covers the bi-level, a requirement must be met. This usually implies that the CPAP machine must be tried first and failed, with documented results, before insurance will cover the cost of a bi-level.
- Auto CPAP or Auto Bi-Level PAP uses a pressure range that self-regulates during operation based on the machine's pressure requirements.
- Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV) is a method of non-invasive ventilation used to keep the airway open and supply an obligatory breath as needed in patients with central sleep apnea.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
Mandibular advancement devices may help patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Oral mandibular advancement devices, also known as dental appliances, can protect the tongue from blocking the throat and shift the lower jaw forward. These devices help to keep the airway open during sleeping.
If this treatment is good for you, talk to a sleep expert and a dentist specializing in dental appliances.
Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator
Stimulator For The Hypoglossal Nerve
A stimulator is implanted under the skin on the right side of the chest, with electrodes tunneled through the skin to the hypoglossal nerve in the neck and the intercostal muscles (between two ribs) in the chest.
The remote control is used to turn on the gadget at bedtime. The hypoglossal nerve is stimulated with each breath, and the tongue glides forward out of the airway, opening the airway.
People with obstructive sleep apnea and those who snore but don't have sleep apnea may benefit from surgical procedures. Outpatient procedures are one of the various types of surgeries performed.
Excessive or deformed tissue impeding airflow through the nose or throat, such as a deviated nasal septum, significantly enlarged tonsils, or a tiny lower jaw with an overbite that causes the throat to be unusually narrow, may require surgery.
These procedures are often used after conservative therapies and a CPAP trial have failed to improve sleep apnea. Types of surgery include:
- Somnoplasty is a minimally invasive technique that reduces the soft tissue in the upper airway using radiofrequency energy.
- Tonsillectomy is a surgical treatment that removes tonsillar tissue from the back of the throat, a typical obstruction source in children with sleep apnea.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a procedure that involves the removal of soft tissue from the back of the throat and palate, resulting in the broader airway at the throat opening.
- Mandibular advancement surgery Obstructive sleep apnea is treated with mandibular/maxillary advancement surgery, which corrects specific facial deformities or throat obstructions. This is an invasive technique designated for patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea and deformities of the head and face.
- Nasal surgery involves removing impediments in the nose, such as a deviated septum.
Now that you know all about sleep apnea, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions.
Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
Yes, it is unquestionably risky. Sleep apnea causes frequent awakenings, making regular, restorative sleep difficult, resulting in significant daytime sleepiness, weariness, and irritability.
What Happens In Sleep Apnea?
Individuals might find it challenging to concentrate and fall asleep at work when watching TV or even while driving. People with sleep apnea are more likely to be involved in car accidents and workplace mishaps.
You may also be irritable, moody, or depressed. Sleep apnea in children and teenagers can lead to poor academic performance and behavioural issues.
What's The Leading Cause Of Sleep Apnea?
Excess weight and obesity, linked to mouth and soft throat tissue, are adults' most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea. This soft tissue can cause the airway to become clogged during sleep when the throat and tongue muscles are relaxed.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can have long-term effects on your health and well-being. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of this condition, it's important to seek medical advice as soon as possible to get the best treatment for it.
With proper understanding and management of the condition, people with sleep apnea can enjoy a better quality of life through improved restful nights and more energy during their days. Learning how to recognize signs of sleep apnea, what treatments are available, and practical tips for getting better rest will help anyone suffering from this condition live healthier lives.
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