Getting a good night's sleep can be a rare occurrence for some people. Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. It is characterized by sudden stops and starts in breathing during sleep, leading to poor sleep quality and daytime fatigue. Sleep apnea can lead to severe health complications if left untreated. This piece will discuss how to recognize sleep apnea and explore the various treatment options available.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start during sleep. Three forms are diagnosed: central sleep apnea (CSA), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and mixed/complex sleep apnea. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea and is caused by an obstruction in the airway. CSA occurs when the brain fails altogether to signal the muscles to breathe, and mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both.
Recognizing Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can manifest itself in several ways. The most common symptoms include excessive snoring, gasping for air or choking during sleep, pauses in breathing during sleep, sore throat, dry mouth, irritability, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty staying asleep, and a feeling of restlessness after a full night's sleep.
Thankfully, several effective treatment options are available to improve sleep apnea, depending on the severity of the disorder. Non-invasive solutions include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, oral appliances, and lifestyle modifications. CPAP machines push continuous air pressure through the nose and mouth, essentially keeping airways open while you sleep. Oral appliances, on the other hand, are dental devices that physically shift the position of the jaw, reducing airway blockage. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and other sedatives, sleeping on the side, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly can also help reduce symptoms.
Surgical treatment options exist for those with severe sleep apnea and include adenotonsillectomy, which removes the tonsils and adenoids; uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery, which removes soft tissue in the throat; and maxillomandibular advancement surgery (MMA), which repositions the jaw and tongue. These surgical treatments are generally reserved for those who cannot tolerate CPAP or oral appliances or those who have severe sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects millions worldwide and, if left untreated, can lead to severe health complications such as heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Though diagnosing sleep apnea can prove difficult, recognizing its symptoms is imperative. Treatment options such as CPAP, oral appliances, and surgical procedures can help manage the disorder, but it's essential to consult with a sleep specialist to determine the best solution for you. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, prioritize seeking medical attention.
For more information on sleep apnea treatments, contact a professional near you.