Sleep apnea is common when breathing stops and starts many times during sleep. That can control the body from obtaining enough oxygen. You may need to talk to your doctor about sleep apnea if someone tells you that you snore or gasp while sleeping or if you have other symptoms of poor sleep quality.
Types Of Sleep Apnea
The main types of sleep apnea are:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It is the most common and occurs when the muscles of the throat relax.
Central Sleep Apnea
If the brain does not send correct signals to the muscles that control breathing, ‘Central sleep apnea occurs.
Complex Sleep Apnea
It occurs when someone suffers from central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.
Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
If your partner may alert you to some of the symptoms of sleep apnea, such as:
- breathing that starts and stops during sleep
- loud and frequent snoring
- shortness of breath during sleep
Or you may also notice the following symptoms yourself:
- sleepiness and tiredness during the day, which can cause learning, concentration, and reaction problems, dry mouth or headache, sexual dysfunction or decreased libido
- awakening up often during the night to urinate
Also, symptoms of sleep apnea we can find in children. Sleep apnea children may be hyperactive and may wet the bed, have worsening asthma, and have trouble paying attention in school.
Please speak to your doctor about the symptoms you have had. You may require a ‘sleep study’ in order to help diagnose the condition.
Diagnosis of The Apnea
Your doctor may inquire about your symptoms, risk factors, and your family’s sleep history regarding the disease of ‘Sleep Apnea.’ You may need to get the analysis of ‘a sleep study’ to help diagnose sleep apnea.
If your doctor will ask you to see a sleep specialist or go to a center for a sleep study, then go for it. Sleep studies can help diagnose your type of sleep apnea and its severity.
A sleep diary can be helpful to you in tracking your number of hours of sleep you had and how well you sleep, and how sleepy you feel during the day. Those details can help your doctor to diagnose your condition.
Other Medical Conditions
Sometimes your doctor may ask for other tests to help rule out other medical conditions that can cause sleep apnea.
- Blood tests monitor the levels of certain hormones to see if there are endocrine disorders that could contribute to sleep apnea. Thyroid hormone tests can rule out the presence of hypothyroidism. Growth hormone tests can rule out acromegaly. Total testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) tests can help rule out polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Examination of pelvic ultrasound studies the ovaries and helps detect cysts. That can rule out the presence of PCOS.
Your doctor will also want to know if you are taking medications, such as opioids, that could affect sleep or cause breathing symptoms or sleep apnea. You may want to know if you recently took a trip above 6,000 feet because those low-oxygen environments can cause sleep apnea for a few weeks after your trip.
Causes Of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in case of the muscles at the relaxing conditions prevail back of the throat. In that case, the airways narrow or close when you breathe in, preventing you from taking adequate breaths and lowering the oxygen level in your blood.
Central sleep apnea, the least common, occurs when the brain does not transmit signals to the breathing muscles. It causes that for a short period of time, the patient does not make any effort to breathe, causing waking up with shortness of breath or difficulty falling back asleep.
Treatment For Sleep Apnea
If a sleep study shows you have sleep apnea, your doctor may talk with you about making lifelong heart-healthy lifestyle changes. You may also need a breathing device, oral device, or surgery to keep your airway open while you sleep.
Changes For A Healthy Lifestyle
To help treat sleep apnea, you may need to make ongoing healthy lifestyle changes. Some of them are getting regular physical activity, maintaining healthy sleep habits and a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, and quitting smoking. Your doctor may also tell you to sleep on your side, not your back. It helps you to keep your airway open while sleeping.
A machine by the name ‘CPAP’ is a breathing device. It is a piece of highly valuable equipment for common sleep apnea treatment. It helps to keep your airway open when you inhale. It provides constant air pressure to your throat also.
Breathing devices work best when healthy lifestyle changes are also made. Some side effects of CPAP treatment can be:
- dry eyes
- dry mouth
- nose bleeds
- nasal secretions
If you have stomach discomfort or bloating, you should stop using the CPAP machine and contact your doctor.
Depending on your type of sleep apnea, you may need another type of breathing devices, such as a self-adjusting positive airway pressure (APAP) machine or a bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP) machine.
Oral appliances, also called oral appliances, are custom devices that are usually worn in the mouth while sleeping. Two types of oral devices work differently to open the upper airway during slumber. There are some hybrid devices having features of both types.
- Mandibular repositioning appliances are devices that cover the upper and lower teeth. It is useful in holding the jaw in a position functional to prevent it from blocking the upper airway.
- Oral appliances like Tongue retaining appliances are available to hold the tongue forward to prevent it from blocking the upper airway.
The FDA recently approved a new type of oral device for use while in awake condition. The device is useful for delivering electrical muscle stimulation through a removable mouthpiece around the tongue. The device is worn for 20 minutes daily for six weeks. The device stimulates the muscle of the tongue while one is awake to help prevent the tongue from collapsing backward, as well as blocking the airway during sleep.
Your doctor will prescribe an oral device if you have sleep apnea. If you don’t want to use CPAP or can’t tolerate CPAP. The doctor will recommend seeing a dentist who will custom-fit your appliance and ensure it fits you comfortably. Also, he teaches you how to use it to achieve the best results.
Therapy For The Mouth And Face Muscles
Exercises for the mouth and face muscles, also known as orofacial therapy, can help treat sleep apnea in children and adults. This therapy helps improve the tongue’s position. It strengthens the muscles that control various parts such as the face, lips, tongue, and upper airway.
You may need surgery where other treatments do not work out. There are some possible surgical procedures which include:
- Tonsillectomy is a well-known procedure useful for removing the tonsils.
- We prefer a maxillary or mandibular advancement procedure to move the upper part (maxilla) and lower part (mandible) forward to help enlarge the upper airway.
- Surgery is available to place an implant that monitors breathing patterns and helps control certain muscles that open the airways during sleep.
- Surgery removing some tissues in the mouth and throat is accessible, enlarging the upper airway.
Can We Prevent This Apnea?
We cannot prevent sleep apnea definitively, but we can follow some guidelines to reduce the risk:
- Increase consumption of vegetables and fruits
- Get regular physical activity
- No Smoking
- Have good hydration
- Control blood sugar level and blood pressure
- See your GP regularly