Sleep is the most important aspect of human health. The activities and productivity of the entire day depending on the sleep we take. If the sleep is not appropriate, nothing can go right. However, it is always not possible for a person to have control over their sleep patterns. Some sleep-related disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea can really cause troubles. Here we are discussing a brief description of this disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea, its Symptoms, and Treatments.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Problem
To begin with, Apnea means a medical condition wherein a person stops breathing for a short while during his/her sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that shall not be ignored or taken lightly. This disorder causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly during one’s sleep. Among all the sleep disorders, this one is the most common and occurs when the throat muscles relax and block a person’s airway intermittently while sleeping. Snoring is the major sign that can be noticed if a person is suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
So, basically, this type of apnea occurs when throat muscles relax for long to permit normal breathing. So, when the muscles relax, the airway narrows or shuts as one breathes in. this causes breathing to be improper for 10 seconds or more than that. This, further, decreases the oxygen level in blood and leads to the build-up of carbon dioxide. Now, in this case, the brain senses this improper breathing pattern and wakes the person up from sleep so as to open up the airway and breathe properly.
It shall be noted that this waking up from sleep is for a fraction of a minute that the person does not remember. A snorting, gasping, or choking sound is made by the person suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. This pattern of impaired breathes may be repeated all night long or 5 to 30 times or even more in an hour. This causes restless and sleepy days as the sleepover the night is improper; nevertheless, the sufferer might be unaware of the fact that they did not sleep well at night.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Symptoms
There are many symptoms to be noticed if a person is being troubled with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
- Loud Snoring
- Sleeping Excessively during the day
- Stopped breathing patterns observed during sleep
- Waking up abruptly with a sore throat, dry mouth or gasping
- Experiencing headache in the morning
- Concentration and focusing issues during the day.
- High Level of Blood Pressure
- Depression or Mood Swings
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Treatment
So, if the snoring is loud enough to bother others along with you, it’s high time to consult a doctor. It is not necessary that everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnea. However, if the snoring is very loud, and is interrupted by short intervals of silence, one definitely needs to consult a medical practitioner. A physical examination might be required with a sleep specialist to diagnose the problem. Their evaluation may inculcate overnight sleep patterns in a monitored environment.
Like, the doctor might prescribe Polysomnography tests during sleep to monitor your heart, brain activity, and lungs. Yet another test is Home Sleep Apnea Testing. Under this, the specialist may offer a home version of the aforementioned test. This test is done to diagnose Obstructive sleep apnea that involves measuring the airflow, blood oxygen levels, breathing patterns, snoring intensity, and limb movements. So, there are a few treatments that a person can take for relief.
Changes in Lifestyle:
If apnea has just started, the doctor can suggest minor lifestyle changes.
- A person should work on his/her weight as it can be the major cause of the disorder and snoring.
- Regular workouts can also help in maintaining the weight and fitness level.
- Try quitting smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Avoid sleeping on the back.
- Allergy medications or nasal decongestants can be used.
In case, these changes do not bring a positive change, the doctor might prescribe some therapies.
The therapies that the doctor may prescribe are:
Positive Airway Pressure
Positive airway pressure can be of great benefit to those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Under this treatment, a machine is fixed into the nose or over the nose that delivers air pressure while you sleep. It improves the quality of life as it descends the number of respiratory events that take place while a person sleeps. It also reduces the span of excessive sleeping during the day.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP is the most common type of Positive Airflow Pressure treatment. Under this treatment, the pressure of the air supplied to the person is continuous and more than the surrounding the air. This air is sufficient to keep the upper airway passage open and prevents snoring and Obstructive sleep apnea. Some people might find it uncomfortable in the beginning to wear and adjust the mask; however, with time it gets comfortable. Also, as technology is advancing, new machines are compact and less noisy.
Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BPAP) is yet another type of Positive Airway Pressure. Here, the air pressure is different when you breathe in and breathe out. This method is used if the person is having trouble adjusting with CPAP.
A mouthpiece or Oral device is given to people who have moderate Obstructive sleep apnea. These oral devices may reduce day sleeps and help in the quality of life as they are specifically designed to keep the throat open. These devices have fitting issues so one needs to consult the dentist and check for follow up for their proper functioning.
The last resort is surgery if CPAP or Mouthpieces are not working. There is a procedure wherein the doctor will remove tissue from the mouth’s back and throat’s top. Laser treatments can be used to remove the tissues to treat snoring.
So, if you sense any problem in your sleeping patterns, first thing first, check out your lifestyle. minor lifestyle changes can definitely improve the quality of sleep.