Sleep Apnea Treatment & Diagnosis

OVERVIEW

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder in which the individual stops breathing in several repeated pauses. As a sleep apnea patient, you will wake up tired and groggy in the morning after a night’s sleep. Sleep apnea treatment is used to help patients overcome loud snoring and breathing blockages during sleep.

TYPES OF SLEEP APNEA 

This sleeping disorder is categorized into three types based on different causes. They are as follows:

Obstructive Sleep apnea

This is the most common type of sleep apnea which occurs when the muscles of the throat relax.

Central Sleep apnea

The central sleep apnea is caused by the brain’s inability to send appropriate signals to muscles that are responsible for controlling breathing.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

Just as how the name suggests, this is the amalgamation of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. It is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

It is reported that about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea with 80% having undiagnosed moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common type of sleeping disorder in the US.

Sleep apnea is caused by the repeated blockage of the upper airway which partially or completely obstructs the airflow during sleep. It can also be caused by the brain’s incorrect signals to the muscles that are responsible for controlling breathing.

Physicians carry out Sleep Apnea Diagnosis through different sleep studies that help record and assess the intervals of stopped breathing. These studies also help observe and evaluate the oxygen levels in the bloodstream during the sleep apnea episodes.

If you snore loudly or have trouble breathing during sleep, it’s better to consult your family physician for Sleep Apnea Testing Near Auburn.

Timely diagnosis and treatment will cure and relieve the symptoms and help prevent other complications such as heart problems.

Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Loud snoring
  • Repeated pauses in breathing
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Headaches and excessive tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness/ hypersomnia
  • Unable to focus while awake
  • Frustration & irritability

Not everyone who snores is not inevitably a patient of sleep apnea. It’s better to consult the professional advice of your doctor.

Diagnosis

There are several ways to diagnose sleep apnea and your doctor may carry out sleep studies to evaluate your condition. It’s better to consult sleep specialists that offer consultations and treatment at sleep disorder centers.

Individuals complaining of sleep apnea are called over for overnight sleep tests. These tests involve monitoring of your breathing patterns and other responses in your body during sleep. Sometimes home sleep tests are also scheduled to detect sleep apnea.

Following are some of the most common types of diagnosis for sleep apnea:

Nocturnal Polysomnography

This is a type of diagnosis which involves the fastening of various monitoring equipment with the human body. This type of equipment helps observe lungs and brain activity, breathing patterns, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and upper and lower limb movements.

Home Sleep Tests

These are the types of diagnostic tests that help monitor heartbeat, blood oxygen level, and breathing patterns to identify sleep apnea.

Since not all portable monitoring devices are advanced enough to detect sleep apnea, you may be referred for further testing like polysomnography.

On the confirmation of the disorder, you may be referred to an ENT specialist, a cardiologist or a neurologist to treat extreme cases.

TREATMENT

For less severe cases, patients are recommended a set of lifestyle changes, like quitting narcotics. You may also be referred to an allergy doctor to treat nasal allergies.

Extreme sleep apnea calls for several therapies and surgeries. There are several devices available in the market to cure blocked airways.

Therapies To Cure Severe Sleep Apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

Patients with severe sleep apnea are recommended machines with a mask that you can wear during sleep. The CPAP device applies a stronger air pressure than the surrounding atmospheric pressure. This pressure helps the upper airway passages to stay open to prevent snoring and apnea.

The machine and the mask may appear to be an uncomfortable fit in the first few days, but you’ll be able to get around that feeling. You can adjust the straps to suit your comfortable position.

Contact your doctor if you happen to start snoring again during the treatment or after it.

Oral Appliances

Patients are also recommended to wear oral devices that help keep the throat open. Though this type of device is not as effective as a CPAP, it can provide much greater comfort. It can help relieve loud snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.

Patients have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of devices that can be procured from a dentist. You can follow up with your dentist and doctor to keep track of everything. 

Types of Surgery

This is the last resort to help cure severe sleep apnea. A three-month trial of basic medications is recommended before opting for surgery. Some common surgical procedures include:

  • Tissue Removal

This type of surgical procedure involves the removal of adenoids and tonsils. The surgeon also removes the top of the throat and rear of your mouth.

It is not the most practical recommendation and is proven to be less reliable than a CPAP to cure obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Tissue Shrinkage

With the use of radiofrequency ablation, the tissues of the back of the mouth are shrunk to cure mild to moderate sleep apnea. It is less risky than tissue removal but with similar results.

  • Jaw Repositioning

The technique of maxillomandibular advancement is used to reposition the jaw to move it forward from the rest of the facial bones. This provides more space for less obstruction behind the tongue.

  • Nerve Stimulation

A never stimulator is surgically inserted inside the hypoglossal nerve which controls the tongue movement. It helps keep the tongue in the rightful position to allow the airways to stay clear and open.

  • Tracheostomy

Tracheostomy is only recommended in acute and life-threatening sleep apnea.

This is the most critical form of surgical procedure in which the surgeon cuts an opening in the neck and insert a plastic or metal tube to create a new air passage for breathing.

Lifestyle Changes & Self-Care

You may be recommended a set of self-care tips and guidelines to help you cure obstructive and central sleep apnea. Following tips may prove fruitful to help ease the sleeping disorder:

Maintain A Healthy Weight

If you happen to be obese it is recommended to lose weight slightly to maintain a healthy weight which can greatly help.

Build Up Your Stamina

It is highly recommended to exercise regularly to help fight off the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Even a brisk walk for a couple of minutes would be sufficient.

Sleeping Position

We advise you to sleep on your side or on the abdomen to avoid air blockages which may occur if you sleep on your back.

Quit Smoking

Smoking greatly affects the state and severity of your sleep apnea. It is highly effective if you quit smoking.

No Sedatives, Sleeping Pills Or Alcohol

Sedatives and sleeping pills happen to relax the muscles in the rear throat which may cause trouble breathing while sleeping.

CONCLUSION

Though sleep apnea is not quite life-threatening, if left untreated it may give rise to several other cardiovascular complications. You should consult your doctor for timely identification of the disorder, and for professional counseling to help cope with it.