Sleep Apnea is a not a rare disorder. It alters your regular breathing pattern while sleeping, by cutting your breath off for a period of time lasting less than a minute. As a result, it does not allow you to rest properly and have a good night’s sleep. Although females and males in different stages of life can suffer from this condition, it typically affects males and older individuals.
Sleep apnea can be separated into two different types:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
OSA is generally characterized by the appearance of body tissue containing fat in the pharynx and its surroundings. This tissue causes an obstruction in the upper respiratory tract. More than half the people who have sleep apnea, suffer from this type.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
CSA affects breathing while sleeping due to a dysfunction in the transmission of signals between the brain and the muscles in charge of breathing. Even though this condition exists, it is not as usual as OSA.
Symptoms are not easily recognizable by the patient, and are identified by someone else, most of the time.
If you suddenly feel tired during the day, wake up with pain in the head, snore heavily while resting, or your breathing is unsteady while sleeping, you should make an appointment with your doctor to determine if you have sleep apnea or not.
Sleep apnea can be classified into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild sleep apnea
When it is not severe, this disorder can be greatly improved by simply altering some of your usual characteristics. The main actions you can undertake to improve your condition are:
- Leading a routine that facilitates weight loss
- Laying down with your body directed to your left or right side
Medical care might be necessary in these cases, to the extent of using mouth appliances. They can benefit sleep apnea since they allow the mouth to remain open while sleeping.
Moderate and severe sleep apnea
In these cases, sleep apnea can be taken care of with airway pressure therapies. Your doctor should be able to determine and assign the correct therapy to suit your needs. There are two types of airway pressure therapies employed on patients with this level of sleep apnea that can benefit their sleeping pattern:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – this makes use of an equipment that functions similarly to a ventilator, and keeps the respiratory tract open, therefore improving the ability to sleep calmly
- Bilevel positive airway pressure – Similar to CPAP machines, this device also helps to hold the respiratory tract open. However, it delivers twice as much air as CPAP machines.
How your doctor decides to manage your condition, is related to what it originated from in the first place. Surgical procedures involving the respiratory system may come into play when individuals are not capable of using positive airway pressure techniques.
Why should you seek medical assistance?
As soon as you suspect you are suffering from this condition, you should make sure that you seek medical assistance. If you fail to do so, it can lead to severe health and personal consequences. If not taken care of, people living with this condition are more likely to develop conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cerebrovascular accident
Sleep apnea can not only threaten your life, but also put that of somebody else at risk. There have been cases in which people with this disorder suddenly fell asleep while at the wheel. Besides affecting your personal life and health, it can also impair your professional life as you might fall asleep while doing your job.