Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where a person stops breathing while sleeping, impairing the restfulness and restorative powers of sleep. Prolonged sleep apnea can produce serious health problems.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Types of sleep apnea generally falls into three categories: obstructive, central and complex.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where interruptions in breathing are caused by physical blockage of the airway. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It commonly affects older people, and overweight people due to the weight of neck fat causing the throat’s airway to collapse. But young people, thin people, even children, can suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. It is estimated that 10% of the United States population has obstructive sleep apnea, with a large majority of cases being undiagnosed.
Central sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles responsible for breathing. Central sleep apnea is much less common than obstructive sleep apnea. Complex sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where, during the initial treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, incidents of central sleep apnea occur due to the brain misinterpreting breathing needs.
Sleep Apnea Signs and Symptoms
People with sleep apnea often snore loudly, and their snoring may include long gaps in breathing, gasping, snorting, or even choking sounds. The gaps in breathing are dangerous because the natural sleep cycle of the brain is disrupted since the brain needs to waken from sleep to an extent necessary to cause breathing to resume. Therefore, people with sleep apnea often feel extremely tired during day, even after a full night’s sleep. Other common symptoms of sleep apnea include waking up with a dry mouth, feeling out of breath upon waking up, headaches, insomnia, fitful sleep, restless sleep, frequent nighttime awakenings, the need to urinate often during the night, depression, moodiness, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, and forgetfulness.
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Most people with sleep apnea are not aware of the problem due to their lack of consciousness during sleep and most cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed for years because the only way to properly diagnose the problem is with a sleep study or polysomnograph. Almost always, it is the person’s bed partner who is first aware of the problem. Therefore, for people who sleep alone, the condition may go undiagnosed and untreated.
For mild cases of sleep apnea, simple behavior or lifestyle changes may provide the solution. Because sleeping on one’s back can be problematic because the tongue tends to slide down and can come in contact the back of the throat thereby obstructing the breathing passage, it is often advantageous to sleep on one’s side. And because fat in the neck area may cause collapse of the throat’s breathing passage due to its weight, weight loss can sometimes solve the problem. For moderate to severe apnea cases, a machine called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is often the best sleep apnea treatment. CPAP machines include a nose and/or mouth mask, and via the mask the CPAP machine blows air into the breathing passage at a pressure somewhat above the surrounding air pressure, essentially inflating the breathing passage to keep it from collapsing or being blocked. A more sophisticated type of CPAP machine is the Bi-level or BPAP machine, which blows air into the breathing passage at a higher pressure while the user is inhaling and lower pressure while the user is exhaling. However, even with the more advanced technology of the BPAP machine, many sufferers of sleep apnea never feel totally comfortable with a device which blows air into the breathing passage. For mild to moderate sleep apnea, sometimes simple mechanical devices can be the best sleep apnea solution. Oral appliances which keep the mouth closed and the jaw forward are sometimes effective in cases where the tongue would otherwise slide back into the throat and block the breathing passage. As noted on our homepage, there are numerous chin straps on the market which purport to keep the jaw closed. But buyer beware, standard elastic neoprene chin straps are essentially useless since they only push the jaw almost directly into the jaw joint. We believe Knightsbridge DUAL BAND chin strap is the only chin strap on the market that is effective (and the only chin strap on the market that has been designed to be extremely comfortable when used in an effective manner).
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous condition which should not be left untreated because it can be life threatening. Studies show that people with sleep apnea suffer a much higher incidence of many diseases, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, impotence, memory loss, and headaches, and are considerably more prone to car accidents. Life is too short to suffer from sleep apnea, figure out a way to get a great night’s sleep!