Sleep Apnea – Symptoms and Treatment
What is Sleep Apnea?
It is a medical problem that troubles the way of breathing during sleep. There will be a pause in breathing that lasts for 10-20 seconds and occurs for about hundred times in night. As a result there will be no deeper sleep and you will have disturbed sleep and hence your productivity will be affected.
When you have severe lack of sleep it will lead to drowsiness or sleepiness in day time, less concentration in work and increased risk for accident. It also causes health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiac problem and stroke.
The tissues present at the back of the throat rest and block the airway and hence cause the snoring.
It happens when the brain fails to indicate the muscles which controls the breathing and hence causes snoring.
It is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Signs of sleep apnea:
- Very loud snoring at night
- Signs of choking, sniffing and gasping while sleep
- Pauses during breathing
- Sudden feeling of shortness of breath when waking up at night
- Feeling tired and sleepy during daytime
- Having dry throat when waking up
- Lack of concentration at work
- Having headache in the morning
- Depression and mood swings
Who are at risk?
- People who are Obese
- Male have higher risk than female
- People who are 50yrs and above
- Who has smoking habit
- People who have high blood pressure and thick neck.
- People who have deviated septum, inflamed tonsils or adenoids.
How it can be treated?
Simple treatments done at home with doctor intervention:
- Reducing weight – As obese people have surplus tissue on the throat and hence it blocks the airways. Loosing small amount of weight also reduces the symptoms of sleep apnea.
- Refraining from smoking – Smoking causes the inflammation of and fluid collection in throat and airway passage.
- To avoid alcohol consumption, sleeping pills and sedatives – mainly before the bed time as it relaxes the muscles and obstruct in breathing.
- Exercising daily helps to lose weight and also improves the period and quality of sleep. Performing yoga helps to strengthen the muscles in the airway and enhances the breathing mechanism.
- Try to avoid caffeine and heavy food two hours before going to sleep.
- Try to sleep on your side and avoid sleeping on your back as it causes the tissue to block the airway.
- Elevate your head by four to six inches or use special pillows such as cervical pillow.
- Keep the muscles tight that helps the mouth closed. Use chewing gum or hold pen or pencil till the mouth starts to ache.
Medical management of sleep apnea:
The doctor will start to evaluate if self treatment mentioned above does not work. The complex and central sleep apnea is treated in following ways,
- To treat the underlying medical problems such as heart or neuromuscular disorder.
- Use of supplemental oxygen during sleeping
- Use of breathing devices mainly for obstructive sleep apnea
- Continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) is used in cases of moderate to severe sleep apnea. It is a mask like device that covers the mouth and nose and there will be continuous airflow which helps to free the airway. The machine resembles the size of the tissue box.
- There is alternative for CPAP which is newest and lighter than the traditional one. It is called as provent and is much lighter and invasive than the old one.
- Bi-level positive airway pressure is used for people who have central sleep apnea and who needs support in breathing. It automatically provides pressure while you are sleeping as more pressure when you breathe in and less pressure while you breathe out.
- Adaptive servo ventilation is used in cases of both central and obstructive sleep apnea. The device stores the information on your sleeping pattern and provides airflow according to it.