Treating Sleep Apnea

Stopping breathing or shortness of breath causes sleep apnea. It is a very risky syndrome and if you feel you are suffering from this disorder you should immediately seek medical attention. It can be dangerous to not get proper attention for sleep apnea. If the problem persists and you are not getting any treatment, it could result in serious health hazards like heart attack, stroke, an irregular heart beat, impotency, high blood pressure and other heart related diseases.

When a person is suffering from sleep apnea, the upper airways become obstructed. They can be blocked by tissues, large tonsils, or a large tongue. The most common factor behind sleep apnea is the structure of jaw and airway.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea are extreme daytime sleepiness and recurring periods of interrupted breathing. There may be other symptoms of sleep apnea like loud snoring, headaches, being overweight, having high blood pressure and suffering from irritability or a change in personality.

Sleep apnea is dangerous, and it can be fatal in many cases. You should not ignore sleep apnea and get treatment immediately. Weight loss, surgery, dental appliances, and breathing assistance devices are various ways you can treat sleep apnea. The use of a breath assistance device is the most popular and most effective treatment of sleep apnea. These breathing assistance devices help in increasing the air pressure in the airways, which prevents the airways from collapsing. You have to wear this device in the form of a mask that has a small air blower connected through a pipe to the nose, and you must wear this mask when you go to sleep. There is also another type of device which will be useful for those whose tongue is the main source of obstruction. This device is a suction cup that is used to assist the teeth and tongue from closing the airway.

There are different types of surgeries available as treatment for sleep apnea. With surgery, the uvula, the dangling flesh at the back of your mouth, is eliminated and soft palate and pharynx are made tighter. There are also nasal surgeries which are used to improve sleep apnea. There are several jaw surgeries that can treat sleep apnea as they can help in reducing airway blockages.

It is definitely advisable that you seek professional treatment if you are suffering from sleep apnea. There are also several ways in which you can help yourself. If you are overweight, work towards losing some weight. Quitting smoking can help reduce instances of sleep apnea. You should eliminate all alcohol if possible since alcohol worsens sleep apnea. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle you can make living with “sleep apnea” easier.

Prevent Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea doesn’t have to control your life. In fact, there are steps that you can take today in order to prevent sleep apnea from invading your night’s and ruining your days.

In order to prevent sleep apnea, you must first understand the disorder and what causes it. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes the sufferer to stop breathing on multiple occasions throughout the night. When this happens, the muscles and tissue in the throat are relaxing and causing a block in the airway. The results, which are often symptoms, including heavy snoring, pauses in breathing and waking up short of breath or, in extreme cases, even gasping for air. At first, the sufferer may not realize what happened, but soon will begin to realize a pattern and feelings of fatigue, irritability and lack of concentration during the day. If left untreated, sleep apnea may lead to heart problems, a greater likelihood of a stroke or other serious medical condition.

While all of these things sound very intimidating, the good news is that there are ways to prevent sleep apnea and even control it if already present. Among the ways to prevent sleep apnea are to sleep on your side instead of your back, lose weight if you are overweight or have been diagnosed with obesity, elevate your head using two standard pillows instead of just one, give up cigarettes and alcohol, rid your home of allergens, etc. These are the simplest ways to prevent sleep apnea but, if these prove unsuccessful, a more aggressive approach may be required.

After all treatment methods have been exhausted, including the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, a physician may recommend surgery. Before electing for this treatment, however, the patient needs to understand all of the risks associated with any surgical procedure. Many people find success with the CPAP device because it provides pressurized air to prevent the collapse of the throat muscle and tissue during the night. The patient must sleep with their mouth closed to avoid losing the effects of the CPAP.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is a rare condition characterized by a cessation or decrease in breathing during sleep due to problem with signals from the brain that control breathing.

The symptoms of central sleep apnea are loud snoring, hypersomnolence (excessive daytime sleepiness), and restless sleep. The problem of excessive daytime sleepiness (especially while driving, working or talking) develops slowly over years and is noticeable by friends and colleagues. Hypersomnolence and neurocognitive disturbances stand as a cause for automobile or work-related accidents in sleep apnea patients.

Other symptoms of central sleep apnea include choking or gasping during sleep, unrefreshing sleep, morning headaches, daytime fatigue, personality changes, memory impairment, impaired concentration, poor judgment, mood disturbances, recent weight gain, polyurea, and impotence.

The hypoxic and hypercapnic drives can be impaired by brain stem lesions or by exposure to recurrent hypoxia and hypercapnia and result in central sleep apnea. The stimulus to breathe instead from the cortex and reticular activating system is lost during sleep and the patient stops breathing, the so-called “Ondine’s curse”. Central sleep apnea can also be caused by another rare condition of bilateral diaphragm paralysis which usually occurs as part of a general neuromuscular condition but in some cases can lead to respiratory failure before general weakness is apparent.

The most common and effective treatment option for patients of central sleep apnea is assisted overnight ventilation with external devices such as a rocking bed, or cuirasse. A rocking bed prevents cessation of breathing during sleep by pushing the diaphragm up and down by gravity. Another ventilator device of importance is cuirasse. Cuirasse consists of a small shell that fits around the patient and is connected to an intermittent vacuum pump that draws out the chest wall.