Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. The condition is characterized by a reduction or halt of breathing during sleep and is pretty much common among adults. In sleep apnea, the stops in breathing typically last for 10 to 20 seconds that can occur up to hundred times the night. People may have sleep apnea if they snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.
The most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, slow reflexes, and an increased risk of accidents. These symptoms may lead a person to serious health problems over time, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and weight gain.
Types of sleep apnea:
There are three types of sleep apnea that are as follows:
- Obstructive sleep apnea- The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea in which the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. In this type, the diaphragm and chest muscles work harder in order to open the obstructed airway and pull the air into the lungs. Moreover, you are at risk of developing the underlying condition if you are a male, overweight, a smoker, or above the age of 65. There are other causes of obstructive sleep apnea like having a thick neck, receding chin, deviated septum, or adenoids (the most common cause of sleep apnea in children).
- Central sleep apnea- This type of sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. The underlying condition happens due to instability in the respiratory control center. Under this condition, various causes of sleep apnea include the number of factors that affect the ability of brainstem, spinal cord, or heart.
- Complex sleep apnea- This type of sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Self-help treatment for sleep apnea:
Your sleep specialist may diagnose your condition based on signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. For milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend only lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and maintaining regular sleep hours by sticking to a steady sleep schedule. Your doctor may also provide you a list of bedtime tips for preventing your condition, and these include the following:
- Sleep on your side- Sleeping this way can sort out the situation, as gravity makes it likely for your tongue and soft tissues to drop and obstruct the airways when you sleep on your back.
- Prop your head up- You can perform this method by elevating the head of your bed or your body from the waist up by using a foam wedge.
Self-help treatment also includes throat exercises that may help you reduce the severity of sleep apnea by strengthening the airways and making them less likely to collapse.
Other treatment options for sleep apnea:
If self-help options haven’t served you, then the time has arrived for you to see a sleep specialist who will evaluate your symptoms of sleep apnea and recommend you the effective treatment. These are as follows:
- Continuous positive airway pressure- This treatment is also known as CPAP in which the sufferer has to wear a mask-like machine over his/her nose and mouth while sleeping. The CPAP device works by providing a constant stream of the air and keeping your breathing passages open during your sleep.
- Oral appliances- Your doctor may suggest you to use oral appliances that are specially designed to keep your throat open. The oral appliances help the patients in relieving snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.
- Surgery- Surgery is the option that can increase the size of your airway and reduces the symptoms of sleep apnea. In surgery, the surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose.
Conclusion: Sleep apnea is a complicated situation that impairs daily functioning of a person. Diagnosing it and receiving proper treatment can help you control your symptoms and also assist you in getting you deep sleep and also improves the happiness of your loved one.