What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that the person breathing is interrupted while sleeping. Peoples with untreated sleep apnea may their breathing stop repeatedly while sleeping even to 100 times. It means brain and the other organs may don’t receive enough oxygen.
Different main types includes:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: this type is more common than the other types due to obstruction of the airway. It usually happens when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea: unlike the OSA, the airway is not blocked but brain can’t send signal to the muscle to breathe because of instability in the center of respiratory.
- Mixed sleep apnea: this type of is combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.
When the signs and symptoms of central and obstructive sleep apnea are mixed, it is difficult to diagnose the type of sleep apnea. The most common symptoms include:
- Loud snoring, that mostly happen in obstructive sleep apnea
- Interrupted breathing during sleep which others can understand it
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Waking up with dry mouth and sort pain
- Morning headache
- Sleepless (insomnia)
- Excessive sleeping during the day
Obstructive sleep apnea causes
this type occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat are relaxed. These muscles support the soft palate, a triangular piece of tissue which is hanging from the soft palate (uvula), tonsils, the side walls of throat and the tongue.
As the muscles are relaxed, the airway will be narrow or blocked and you can’t receive enough oxygen. It may cause to decrease the oxygen level in your blood. Your brain can feel the inability for breathing and for a short time rouses you from sleep to reopen your airway.
Sometimes this waking up is as short as you can’t remember it. while you are sleeping maybe others hear the sound of your snoring, asphyxia or panting. This pattern can repeat 5- 30 times per hour at night. This disorder disturbs your ability to reach a desirable and depth level of sleep and probably causes you feel sleepiness and fatigue during the day.
Peoples who are affected by sleep apnea may don’t understand their sleep is interrupted repeatedly. In fact, peoples with obstructive sleep apnea may think that they got sleep well all the night.
Central sleep apnea causes
This type is less common compare to obstructive sleep apnea and it happen when your brain can’t send signal to the breathing muscle. It means you make no effort to breath for a short time. You may wake up because of asphyxia or try to get sleep or have a depth sleep.
Sleep apnea can develop in any person at any age, even children, but following items are risk factors:
- Being male. Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea than women
- Over weight
- Being older than 40 years
- Big neck size (17 inches or bigger in men and 16 inches or bigger in women)
- Enlarge tonsil and tongue or small jaw bone
- Family history
- Alcohol drink, pain killer or sedative drug. These substances relax the pharynx muscle
- Gastric reflux
- Smokers are tree time more likely to develop sleep apnea
- Heart diseases
- Nasal obstruction due to deviation, allergy or sinusitis
Untreated sleep apnea can cause many problems such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disorder, irregular heart beat and heart attack
- Aggravate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Furthermore, untreated sleep apnea can lead to weak performance of daily activity like poor school performance and even causes car accident.
Peoples who suffer of minor sleep apnea just need to changes their life style such as quite smoking or lose weight. If you have allergy, your doctor ask you first treat your allergy. If these methods, don’t improve the symptoms and signs or if you have mild or sever sleep apnea, you need to apply the other methods.
Mild type can treat by changes in behavior such as:
- Lose weight
- Avoid alcohol and sleep tablet
- Change sleep position to improve breathing
- Quite smoking. Smoking can increase the swelling in the upper airway that cause snoring and worsen the sleep apnea
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a kind of treatment that a mask is placed over your nose and mouth. This mask is attached to a machine that reach a continuous flow of air into the nose. The air flow keeps the airway open and regulate breathing. CPAP is the most common way to treat sleep apnea. BPAP is another continuous positive airway pressure with the B level like the CPAP, just the air flow changes when you breath in or breath out.
If you have a crooked nose or enlarged tonsil, or your lower jaw is small and causes to narrow your throat you may need surgery to correct sleep apnea. The most common surgeries to treat sleepapnea include:
- Nasal surgery: correction of nasal problems like deviated septum
- UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty): is a procedure that remove the soft tissue on the back of the throat and palate and widen the airway at the beginning of the throat.
- Mandibular maxillomandibular advancement surgery: this surgery is applied to correct certain facial problems or throat obstructions which have significant role to make sleepapnea.
Another treatment options
In order to tighten the soft tissue of soft palate, there are less offensive methods. Although these methods are effective to treat snoring but their effectiveness is not clear for the treatment of sleep apnea in the long term.
Peoples who can’t use CPAP, they can use another available device called inspire. This device called stimulator of upper airway which include generators that produce small pulse that are placed under the skin, top of the chest. A wire that lead to the lung can detect the normal breathing pattern. Another wire that lead to the neck, slightly stimulate the nerves that control airway muscles and keep it open. A doctor can program this device by an external remote. People who also use inspire can turn it on before the sleep or turn it off when waking up.