Literally apnea means "no breath". Sleep apnea is a disorder that is characterized with pauses in breathing during sleep. A person who suffers from sleep apnea experience disrupted sleep. An apnea may last anywhere from 10 seconds to 2-3 minutes or more within an hour. Sleep apnea affect both adults and children. When sleep apnea occur the victim may produce erratic heavy apnea snoring. Sleep apnea affects the quality of sleep. When it occur you spend more time in light sleep than deep deep which is normal healthful and restful sleep. Sleep apnea can make you experience daytime sleepiness, this is due to less quality sleep (light sleep) at night.
|Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Diagnosing sleep apnea can be quite difficult. This is because not all snoring is a sign of apnea. The disorder cannot be detected by blood test. Anyone can occasionally produce rhythmic snoring. And again, not all sleep apnea may produce snoring. The major signs of sleep apnea is snoring accompanied with choking or gasping during breath pause. If you are constantly looking for sleep during daytime it may also be a sign of sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can have sleep apnea but people over 40, overweight and men have greater risk.
Types Of Sleep Apnea
Basically, there are three types of sleep apnea. These are central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and mixed apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. In obstructive sleep apnea, there is blockage of air movement from the closing of the upper airway at the back of the throat. This condition can affect anyone but it is more common in obese people. It can also affect children who have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throat.
Central sleep apnea is rare and it occurs when the area of the brain that control breathing doesn't give command to breathe regularly. This condition can affect anyone but it is dominant in people with certain medical conditions or undergoing certain medications.
Mixed apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
There are lifestyle changes that can help control sleep apnea. Some experts suggests these practical steps:
- Avoid alcohol as well as stimulants such as coffee or tea near bedtime.
- Quit smoking.
Read: How Can You Quit Smoking
- Avoid being overweight. Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Change sleep positions. Do not sleep on your back. Sleep on your side.
- Be cautious about taking sleep-inducing medications.
Read: Foods That Can Make You Sleep Better
Diagnosing sleep apnea is done by a test called polysomnogram (sleep study). If it is confirm that you have sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest further test so as to know which treatment option is best suitable.
Sleep apnea is treatable. Treatment can be surgical and nonsurgical. Treatment option is best decided by a sleep specialist.
Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAD)
In this treatment the patient wears a mask over his nose or mouth at night. The mask is connected to a machine (pressure regulator) that delivers the right amount of air into the nose needed to prevent sleep apnea. This method is effective because there is continuous flow of compressed air that keeps the airway open for regular breathing.
Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)
This device is constructed by a dentist and fit to hold the jaw and tongue forward and the palate up in order to expand the space at the back of the throat to prevent closure of the airway. If CPAD and MAD does not resolve the problem, then surgical procedure can proceed.
Nasal surgery, uvulopalatophargnoplasty, manidbular maxillar advancement surgery are the most common types of surgery perform for sleep apnea. A specialist will determine which surgical procedure a patient will undergo.