Sleep apnea is treated with lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery. Medicines typically aren't used to treat the condition.
Sleep apnea is a common and underdiagnosed sleep disorder in which an individual’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during a night of sleep. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which your breathing is interrupted for periods of 10 seconds or more while you are asleep. These interruptions may occur hundreds of times a night, causing you to gasp for air and disrupting your sleep.
What is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night.There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs as repetitive episodes of complete or partial upper airway blockage during sleep. During an apneic episode, the diaphragm and chest muscles work harder as the pressure increases to open the airway. Breathing usually resumes with a loud gasp or body jerk. These episodes can interfere with sound sleep, reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses during sleep. Central sleep apnea is usually observed in patients with central nervous system dysfunction, such as following a stroke or in patients with neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is also common in patients with heart failure and other forms of cardiac and pulmonary disease.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Waking frequently with the need to urinate
- Feeling fatigued throughout the day
- Weight gain
- Attention problems
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headaches
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
Doing throat exercises regularly can help ease sleep apnea symptoms. These exercises help strengthen the muscles to prevent blocked or narrowed airways in your nose, mouth or throat. They also help reduce snoring and promote sound sleep at night. Blow a balloon using deep breaths without taking it out of your mouth for as long as possible. Repeat this exercise 5 times daily. While doing this exercise, make sure to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This will facilitate proper airflow through your nose during sleep.
Conservative treatments In mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, conservative therapy may be all that is needed. Overweight persons can benefit from losing weight. Even a 10 percent weight loss can reduce the number of apneic events for most patients. However, losing weight can be difficult to do with untreated obstructive sleep apnea due to increased appetite and metabolism changes that can occur with obstructive sleep apnea. Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea should avoid the use of alcohol and certain sleeping pills, which make the airway more likely to collapse during sleep and prolong the apneic periods.
Surgical procedures may help people with obstructive sleep apnea and others who snore but do not have sleep apnea. There are many types of surgical procedures, some of which are performed as outpatient procedures. Surgery is reserved for people who have excessive or malformed tissue obstructing airflow through the nose or throat, such as a deviated nasal septum, markedly enlarged tonsils, or small lower jaw with an overbite that causes the throat to be abnormally narrow. These procedures are typically performed after sleep apnea has failed to respond to conservative measures and a trial of CPAP. Types of surgery include.
Mechanical therapy is the preferred initial treatment for sleep apnea most people with obstructive sleep apnea. With PAP therapy, patients wear a mask over their nose and/or mouth. An air blower gently forces air through the nose and/or mouth. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing during sleep. PAP therapy prevents airway closure while in use, but apnea episodes return when PAP is stopped or if it is used improperly. There are several styles, and types of positive airway pressure devices depending on specific needs of patients.
Body position during sleep
Snoring and OSA are often worse when lying on the rear. This is because of the effects of gravity on the tongue. Avoiding sleep within this position can improve OSA. In some people it may completely control the problem. This really is best achieved by wearing a device that makes it uncomfortable to sleep on your back. Some such devices can be purchased or it can be as easy as sleeping with a tennis ball sewn right into a pocket on the back of your pyjamas.