An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and it has become so prevalent that some health care professionals claim that it is has become an epidemic. In addition, more than 50% of the cases are undiagnosed. When left untreated, sleep apnea can actually be dangerous, so you should never suffer in silence, always talk to a health professional. Here, we discuss what sleep apnea is and how it can be treated in a safe, reliable, and effective manner.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea refers to a medical condition whereby the patient’s breathing is hindered while they are sound asleep. When sleep apnea is left untreated or undiagnosed the patient will actually stop breathing several times during the duration of their sleep. In fact, some may stop breathing hundreds of times during a single night of sleep. If a person does not get the appropriate amount of oxygen then their brain, as well as the remainder of their body, will be adversely impacted. Left untreated, sleep apnea can even lead to death, so it is not something that should ever be taken lightly. There are two different types of sleep apnea that you should be aware of...
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea in the world. When soft tissue in the back of the patient’s throat collapses while they sleep, airway blockage occurs, which can cut off their oxygen supply and cause death in some severe cases.
Central sleep apnea is less common but just as serious as its counterpart. A patient suffering from central sleep apnea will not have their airway blocked while they sleep, but will instead have issues with their neural messaging. That is, their brains are unable to properly signal the muscles in the body to breathe as intended. It is usually caused by respiratory control center instability.
What are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?
When caught early sleep apnea treatments can save countless lives. However, many people ignore their sleep apnea symptoms, which can prove fatal in some cases. There are some red flag symptoms that you should look for when determining if you suffer from sleep apnea. For instance, an irregular heartbeat, headaches, and chronic fatigue can be caused by sleep apnea.
Children and teenagers who suffer from sleep apnea may have trouble concentrating and may notice their grades slipping. Adults with sleep apnea may have trouble focusing or being productive at work, they may be easily agitated, or they may be more likely to get into an automobile accident due to lack of sleep. Sleep apnea can also worsen ADHD symptoms in both children and adults, and sleep apnea can also lead to diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, and even cardiac arrest. Sleep apnea can also affect mood and can lead to to irritability, anxiety, and even depression if left untreated.
How to Manage Sleep Apnea With Some Lifestyle Changes
Sleeping on your side can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can also help, as weight loss has been linked to a reduction in sleep apnea symptoms in patients. Giving up smoking can also help immensely, as smoking is linked to both cardiovascular and respiratory failure. In addition, sleep apnea sufferers should stop drinking alcohol late in the day. Certain drugs they are taking could cause sleep apnea; a pharmacist or doctor can help determine if certain symptoms may be the result of a medication or combination of drugs that are being taken.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
If lifestyle changes have little to no impact then there could be a need to purchase an auto-CPAP machine. Adaptive servo-ventilation, bilevel positive airway pressure machines, or expiratory positive airway pressure machines may also be recommended by a doctor. In some cases a doctor may recommend surgery or alternative forms of treatment. For instance, they may implant a neurostimulator device, or recommend some other type of surgery.
They may perform a tracheostomy, or the removal of extra tissue from the roof of the throat or the back of the mouth. Or, they may suggest jaw repositioning in order to remedy the facial structure. By doing so, the airway may be opened up so that breathing is easier.
Changes That Could Happen Once Someone Starts Using a CPAP Machine
Once a sleep apnea sufferer purchases a CPAP machine they will likely notice significant improvements in their symptoms. They may lose some weight and sleep a lot better. If they suffered from headaches and migraines in the past, they may cease altogether after using a CPAP machine for a few weeks.
Cardiovascular health will also receive a nice boost, and the risk of vision loss will also be reduced with a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine, when used properly, can be a life changing and even life-saving device. With several different treatment options available, from lifestyle changes and surgeries, to CPAP machines and alternative forms of therapy, please consult with your medical health care professional in order to determine which course of treatment is best for your unique situation.
In order to enjoy optimal health patients who suffer from sleep apnea must get the proper and necessary sleep apnea treatment. Left untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems and even death. If someone feels tired all the time, or has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep then they should speak to their doctor about possible insomnia treatments. If sleep apnea is the cause of their sleep problems then certain sleep aid medications may actually exacerbate the problem by making it more difficult to breathe, so identifying the root cause of the insomnia is paramount.