Sleep Apnea - Health Center

Sleep Apnea

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Sleep Apnea - Overview

Sleep Apnea has emerged out to be one of the most potential sleep disorders in which the breathing tends to stop and start intermittently. People who either snore loudly or tend to feel tired after a full night’s sleep are the ones which are the most prone to suffering from Sleep Apnea.

There are basically two types of Sleep Apneas:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is the most common kind of sleep apnea which occurs due to the relaxation of the throat muscles.

Central Sleep Apnea: This occurs when the brain is unable to send the proper signals to the muscles which lead to uncontrolled breathing.

In case you think that you are suffering from Sleep Apnea, it is recommended to see a doctor immediately. Treatments are crucial towards avoiding the heart problems which may arise from this condition.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

The major reason for the occurrence of Sleep Apnea is the relaxation of the muscles on the back of the throat. These muscles are pivotal in supporting the soft palate, the tonsils as well as the side of the throat and tongue. With the relaxation of these muscles, the airway tends to become narrower and closes during inhalation, leading to an inadequate intake of the air.

This, therefore leads to a decrease in the amount of oxygen that we breathe in. The brain senses the person’s inability to breathe and causes the person to wake up.

This pattern is visible after every five minutes to 30 minutes. These phases lead to a personal gaining inadequate amount of sleep. Also, the people who suffer from Sleep Apnea are not aware of their disrupted sleeping patterns and think that they are sleeping well at night.

Sleep Apnea tends to occur when the brain fails to send the signals to the sleeping muscles. Therefore, the people who suffer from Sleep Apnea awake with the shortness of the breath and have a very hard time falling asleep. Heart failure and stroke are some of the major complications which arise from Sleep Apnea.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The major signs are symptoms of Sleep Apnea are the obstruction as well as the overlapping of the sleep patterns.

Some of the major symptoms are as follows:

  • Excessive sleepiness during the day (Hypersomnia)
  • Loud snoring
  • Cessation of breathing during sleeping
  • Abrupt awakenings during sleep
  • Shortness of the breath
  • Awaking with a dry mouth and sore throat
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Insomnia
  • Problems with attention
  • It is recommended to see a doctor if you are suffering from the below mentioned signs:
  • Loud snoring
  • Shortness of breath when you wake up
  • Pauses in your breathing when you are sleeping
  • Drowsiness while you are awake

Generally, people take snoring very lightly and do not make much of it.

However, make sure that you see your doctors if your snoring patterns are also accompanied with the below mentioned signs and symptoms.

Tests and Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

Evaluation for Sleep Apnea is done with the evaluation of the symptoms. A sleep specialist is needed in order to determine the condition for sure.

Also, sometimes, the doctor may be monitoring you overnight for the breathing patterns as well as other bodily functions while you sleep. Home sleep testing is emerging out to be one of the major diagnostic tests as it is simple as well as inexpensive.

Tests to detect Apnea are as follows:

  • Nocturnal Polysomnograohy: During this test, the affected person is hooked to equipment which monitors the heart rate along with the lung and the brain activity of the person. Also, his breathing patterns, arms and leg movements are duly noted.
  • Home Sleep tests: These are the simple tests which are used in order to determine Sleep Apnea in people. In this, the heart rate, brain oxygen level as well as breathing patterns are noted. In case the results emerge out to be abnormal, then the doctors can intervene and can prescribe medications and therapy.

In case a person is suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, then the doctors might go on and refer you to an otolaryngologist in order to rule out the possibilities for a blockage in the nose or the throat.

Treatments of Sleep Apnea

For mild cases of Sleep Apnea, a few changes in the lifestyle can come out and make a huge difference. However, in moderate or severe cases, a lot of other treatment options are available.

They are as follows:

  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure): This is recommended for people suffering from severe Sleep Apnea. In this, a mask is placed over the nose while the person goes to sleep. This makes the pressure greater as compared to the surrounding air and this is sufficient in order to keep the passages open. This is one of the most common ways for the treatment of Sleep Apnea.
  • EPAP (Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure) : This is one of the most recent treatment options for Sleep Apnea. These small devices are placed over the nostrils of the person before they go to sleep. This device contains of a valve which tends to open and allow the air to pass through while you inhale and exhale. The device is known to reduce the snoring as well as daytime sleepiness in patients.
  • Tissue Removal: This procedure is also known as Uvolopalatopharyngoplasty. In this, the tissue from the rear of the mouth is removed along with the tonsils and the adenoids. This leads to the stopping of the vibration as well as snoring in people suffering from Sleep Apnea.
  • Jaw Repositioning: In this, the jaw is moved forward as compared to the other face bones. This goes out to enlarge the space between the tongue and the soft palate of the person and makes the obstruction very less. This procedure is also known as maxillomandibular advancement and can be done by an oral surgeon.
  • Implants: In this, plastic rods are inserted in the soft palate of the person which can help the person to deal with snoring and milder forms of sleep apnea.
  • ASV (Adaptive Servo – Ventilation) : this has been devised lately and has emerged to be an airflow device helping the person to gain back a normal breathing pattern. The machine goes on to normalize the breathing of a sleeping person and prevents any pause in the breathing.

With the different treatment options, it becomes very simple to deal with Sleep Apnea.

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