Sleep apnea is a serious condition that begins when breathing stops and starts when you fall asleep. If left untreated, it can lead to serious side effects such as high blood pressure, fatigue, heartburn or high blood pressure.
Types of Sleep Apnea:
Sleep apnea has three main types:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It is the most common type of sleep apnea that occurs when the throat muscles relax.
- Central Sleep Apnea
It happens when the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex Sleep Apnea
It is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea and is caused to someone who is suffering from both Obstructive Sleep Apnea and central Sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms:
Some common Sleep Apnea Symptoms given below:
- Loud Snoring
- Dry Mouth or throat
- Sleepiness during the day
- Restlessness while sleeping
- Trouble in concentration
- Morning headache
- Difficulty in concentration
Diagnosis of sleep apnea:
If someone has symptoms of Sleep Apnea, his/her doctor will advise them to have some tests to diagnose that condition. Sleep test which is to be done to diagnose Sleep Apnea is called a Polysomnogram(PSG). This test can be done at the Sleep disorder Centre or also at home.
Polysomnogram electronically sends and records different physical activities while the patient is Sleeping. A Sleep specialist analyses those recordings and if you are diagnosed with Sleep Apnea then your doctor advises you about the best possible treatment.
Precautions to be taken during Sleep Tests:
- For your sleep study at the Sleep disorder Centre or hospital you will be assigned a private bedroom. There will be a central monitoring area where Sleep specialists will be monitoring your sleep schedule.
- If you use a special pillow, bring that along with you and have a book or magazine and comfortable pajamas.
- As intake of caffeine and alcohol can interact with the test result, so don’t take them during the sleep test.
- You will connect with equipment that may seem cumbersome. But most people sleep with little discomfort.
- Many similar portable devices are available for home testing, especially in cases or complex situations.
Different other Tests for Sleep Apnea:
ECG: (electrocardiogram) used to record Heart rate and rhythm.
EEG:(electroencephalogram) used to measure and record brain’s activity.
EMG: (electromyogram) used to record muscle activity.
EOG:(electrooculogram) used to record eye movements.
Snore microphone: is used to record Snoring activity.
Nasal airflow sensor: is used to record airflow.
After all these tests are done, Sleep specialists at the Sleep centre take off all those equipment or sensors attached to your skin. Hence they collect all data and then they send those results to the doctor who decides the best possible treatment after examining your condition according to the results of the tests.
Results of sleep study include:
- Body position
- Movement of limbs
- Unusual brain activity patterns
- Time duration you spend on each Sleep stage
- If you stop breathing or face trouble in breathing
- If you snore
Sleep Apnea Treatment:
There are different ways for sleep apnea treatment. The initial treatment should be lifestyle changes like change in sleep position or weight loss etc. While other treatment methods include the use of medical devices like CPAP machines or surgery.
Sleep Apnea treatment with lifestyle changes:
Sleep Apnea can be treated at home only you have to do is to change your lifestyle like:
- Change Sleep Position:
Change in your body position during Sleep can help you to treat Sleep Apnea. You can breathe more easily when you sleep on your side.
- Weight loss:
If you are overweight, your body have extra tissues which might blocking the airways to breathe. So a slight weight loss can fix your problem of sleep apnea.
- Avoid use of alcohol and sleeping pills:
Alcohol and sleeping pills can decrease the tone of muscles in your throat which can interfere the airflow during breathing.
- Quit smoking:
Smoking can exacerbate inflammation of the upper airways and make snoring and sleep apnea worse.
- Treatment of allergies:
If you have nasal allergies, ask your doctor to treat them firstly because they can swell the tissues and thus blocking the airway for breathing.
Therapies used for Sleep Apnea treatment:
Different machines and therapies are used to treat Sleep Apnea like:
- Oral equipment
CPAP(Continuous Positive Airway Pressure):
This therapy is among the most commonly used treatments of sleep apnea. In this therapy, during sleeping you wear a mask over your nose or mouth. This mask is connected to CPAP(sleep apnea machine) that provides proper constant airflow to your nose that helps to keep airways open so you can breathe easily.
APAP(Automatic Positive Airway Pressure):
If CPAP machine don’t work properly or cause problems, tell your doctor he will prescribe you an APAP(sleep apnea machine). It will support your airways to remain open when you are sleeping. According to your needs, APAP machine adjusts the pressure you needed while you are sleeping.
BiPAP(Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure):
BiPAP is usually safe to use and is similar to CPAP. You have to wear a mask that is connect to the BiPAP machine and it will cause pressure to put air into your lungs. Your normal breathing causes your diaphragm to pushed down so that your lungs can fill air. This is how BiPAP machine works to make your sleep apnea better. While using BiPAP(sleep apnea machine) if you feel any problem or trouble then stop its use and tell your doctor about that. Your doctor may change your treatment.
If you your throat is too narrowed, you may need surgery to breath properly. The conditions which can lead to surgery are enlarged tonsils, deviated nasal separation etc. There are different types of surgeries which can be performed activity to patient’s condition.
- Nasal surgeries
This surgery helps in treatment of nasal problems like deviated nasal septum.
- Mandibular Maxillomandibular advancement surgery
This surgery helps to treat certain facial problems and blockages of throat that are causing sleep apnea to become worsen.
- Uvulopalatogharyngoplasty (UPPP)
This surgery takes out soft tissue from back of throat or palate and hence make your Airway wider by opening your throat.
Dental equipment can help keep the airways open while you sleep. Dentists who specialize in treating sleep apnea can design them.