If you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep or you snore loudly, you’re probably suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which your breathing is disrupted i.e. the breathing repeatedly stops and starts. These pauses in breathing might happen several times at night and can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. At great risk for this sleep disorder are men, overweight people, and people over 40. If sleep apnea remains untreated, it can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure (irregular heartbeats and heart attacks), depression or headaches.
There are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which is one of the more common types, occurs when the brain sends the signal to the muscles and the muscles make an effort to take a breath, but they’re unsuccessful and the airway becomes obstructed and prevents an adequate flow of air.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain doesn’t send the signal to the muscles to take a breath, so there is no muscular effort to take a breath.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as mixed sleep apnea, occurs when there’s both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.
For those struggling with this condition, there are a number of methods that can successfully treat it or at least reduce its severity.
If you have any type of sleep apnea, your doctor might recommend getting a bilevel positive airway pressure bipap machine. The BiPAP machine is designed to deliver optimal ventilation with minimal intervention. Its works using a clinically proven algorithm for maximum efficiency. It can provide a restful sleep for the patient since it works with patterns to minimise applied pressure, pressure support and mouth breathing.
A bilevel positive airway pressure bipap device is about the size of a lunchbox. It includes a face mask, nasal mask or nasal plugs connected to the machine by a tube. When the machine motor blows air through the tube, the air enters your body through the mask or the plugs, opening up your airways. BiPAP offers bi-level air pressure, which means you can have two different air pressure settings, one for inhaling, and one for exhaling.
BiPAP therapy can be beneficial for patients who struggle with:
● high-pressure settings or low oxygen levels;
● a neurological or neuromuscular disorder;
● cardiopulmonary disorders, such as congestive heart failure;
● poor breathing because of another medical condition or after some medical procedure.
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and the therapy involves a specialised CPAP machine. This is another treatment method for patients who have sleep apnea. With CPAP, you wear a mask over the nose or mouth while sleeping. The mask is attached to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air into your nose. This airflow helps keep your airways open so that you breathe properly.
CPAP therapy is one of the most common treatment options for patients who have obstructive sleep apnea. Patients who use the CPAP machine may face a few problems at the beginning, but with a few helpful tips they can be easily avoided.
Oral appliances push the tongue and the lower jaw forward which expands the airways and improves airflow. These appliances can be designed for you by a dentist with special expertise in treating sleep apnea. The biggest complaint about oral appliances seems to be the discomfort. However, some people find them more comfortable than CPAP machines.
Surgery is not as commonly used for sleep apnea compared to the nonsurgical treatments. However, surgical treatments can be effective, especially for patients who have tried a CPAP therapy or oral appliances and found them unsuccessful or too uncomfortable to use consistently. Surgery, which usually includes removing the tonsils, is a very common treatment for children. There are different types of surgical procedures for sleep apnea.
A few lifestyle changes can have a very positive effect on reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea. In fact, your doctor may recommend these steps on top of other medical treatments:
- Lose weight – Excess bodyweight around the stomach area puts pressure on the lungs, thus creating breathing problems. That being said, weight loss can help eliminate sleep apnea caused by obesity. Even a slight weight loss can greatly reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes that occur each night.
- Reduce alcohol and sedative medications intake – The consumption of alcohol is associated with an increased risk for sleep apnea, same as for sedative medications (sleeping pills). They affect the brain, causing slow function in the sending of signals to the muscles.
- Change sleeping positions – Sleeping horizontally on your side can help keep your airway clear and open. To keep from rolling onto your back while sleeping, you can try attaching a tennis ball to the back of your shirt. This can lead to significant short-term improvements for your sleep apnea.
- Stop smoking – It’s no secret that smoking causes obstructions in the airway. And these obstructions can make it harder to breathe while sleeping. Luckily, there are many effective techniques to help you quit.
Since sleep apnea is a serious medical problem, it’s not recommended to do anything on your own. To be treated properly, you should consult a medical professional.