What Is Sleep Apnea? And How to treat it?

Sleep apnea is one of the chronic sleep disorders i.e. characterized by pause or reduction of airflow (breathing) whilst sleeping. It is found most commonly amongst adults and rare in kids. Diagnosing sleep apnea is frequently seen to be related with your medical history and you need to undergo numerous tests for verifying the same.

Apnea is basically the time period when breathing is reduced or stopped. It occurs whilst an individual discontinues breathing for nearly 10 seconds. Other meanings of sleep apnea can involve:

  • Drop of 4% oxygen in blood
  • Reduction in oxygen transfer in blood once breathing stops

Sleep ApneaWhen sleep apneas occur, sleep is disturbed owing to level of inadequate oxygen in blood and breathing issues.

Symptoms of sleep apnea:

Most common sleep apnea symptoms include the following:

  • Snoring loudly
  • Headaches in morning
  • Waking up with dry or sore throat
  • Insomnia (Awakening persistently)
  • Sleepiness when driving
  • Sleep restlessness
  • Lacking energy during daytime
  • Awakening with choking sensation

In addition, the symptoms include changes in mood, decreased sex interest and forgetfulness.

Causes of sleep apnea:

The sleep apnea causes mainly depend on the types. Have a look at those:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

This is the most common form of apnea i.e. mainly caused by airflow blockage when soft tissues at the back of throat crumple when sleeping. This can lower the oxygen level in blood and can be sensed by your brain awakening you to re-open the airways. The awakening is for a short period that you don’t recall it.

With this form of apnea, you can make gasping, snorting or choking sounds. This can repeat for (5-30) times or even more per hour all through night. Owing to restlessness in sleep, you might feel sleepy during day.

Central Sleep Apnea:

This is lesser compared to OSA and occurs when brain doesn’t succeed transmitting signals to breathing muscles. You might awaken by breathing shortness or pass through difficult time when remaining asleep. Similar to OSA, it can make you snore and feel sleepy during working hours. Common cause of this form of apnea is heart fail and stroke is seen to occur lesser.

Treatment of sleep apnea:

Treatment basically involves on the type of apnea you might face. For this reason, your doctor might evaluate you after a couple of tests:

Home Sleep Tests

In few cases, doctors usually suggest conducting sleep apnea test at your home. These include level of blood oxygen, breathing patterns, airflow and heart rate etc. Portable devices might not deliver actual results and therefore, Nocturnal Polysomnography is suggested.

Nocturnal Polysomnography

In this test, you are being clasped with equipments monitoring:

  • Your heart
  • Brain and lung activity
  • Movements of legs and arms
  • Breathing patterns and
  • Level of oxygen in blood when you are asleep.

On the basis of diagnosis, your doctor prescribes right sleep apnea treatment options:

  • Breathing sleep apnea machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP)
  • Mouthpieces (Oral Appliance)
  • Therapies and
  • Lastly Surgery

Sometimes change in lifestyle that might include giving up some of your regular habits and activities can work.

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Lakshmi Rekha

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