Sleep apnea is a common medical condition where patients experience breathing problems when trying to sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea typically experience a relaxation of the muscles in the airways. When this happens, the tissue in the area expands and blocks the airway, causing a sharp decline in the amount of oxygen available in the bloodstream. When the brain senses this, it sends a signal to arouse the patient so that the muscles can contract and clear the obstruction. In most cases, this process happens so fast that most victims of sleep apnea are not even aware that they woke up.
When one is suffering from sleep apnea, some common symptoms often offer clues that help physicians diagnose sleep apnea. For example, loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea. Another common symptom is irritability during the day, which is caused by inadequate sleep. This is because the sleep-wake-sleep cycle means that the normal sleep cycles are not achieved, and this leaves the victims fatigued. Finally, doctors may use oximeters in order to understand your blood oxygen dynamics when the patient is asleep.
Once confirmed, here are some of the approaches that are used to treat sleep apnea.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy is an approach to managing sleep apnea where a machine blows a constant stream of air into the airway to prevent the soft tissue from collapsing and blocking air movement. This air is delivered to the airway via a mask that may either cover the nose or the nose and the mouth. The mask is connected to a tube which in turn is connected to a motorized machine.
This approach to the treatment of sleep apnea revolves around oral devices that are fitted into the patient’s mouth. The oral device holds the tongue in a specific position that prevents the muscles around the airway from collapsing. For people who struggle with CPAP masks, oral devices are a great alternative. The downside to these devices is that they only work for patients who have mild to moderate sleep apnea.
For patients with serious sleep apnea problems, surgery might be an option. Here, an operation is done to remove the extra tissue around the airway which significantly reduces or even eliminates blockages. The downside to surgery as a way of treating sleep apnea is that it does not work for everyone. This approach can also be quite intrusive with a recovery period that may be long.
Lastly, it has been recorded that some patients who undergo surgery may suffer from sleep apnea again after some time. Based on the severity of the condition, your doctor may be able to advise you on the suitability of surgery as a way of treating your sleep apnea.
Weight has long been identified as a potential cause of sleep apnea. Even when it is not a direct cause, obesity can aggravate the condition and make it hard to manage. For patients suffering from mild sleep apnea, losing weight could have a significant effect on the condition. While losing weight is no guarantee that the condition will be controlled, it may reduce the severity of the condition, paving way for other approaches in managing sleep apnea.