- by Portea HomeCare
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- Feb 23 2017
3 Sleep Apnea Warning Signs and Treatment
f you wake up in the morning with a throbbing pain in the head and, feel as tired as you felt the previous night just before hitting the sack, you could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. This condition could be extremely uncomfortable for your spouse or partner as well, because of the incessant snoring, choking or gasping sounds in the middle of the night.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder wherein the upper airway passages close, thus interrupting normal breathing and depriving you of oxygen supply till the time you wake up and start breathing again. By doing so, sleep apnea causes extreme drowsiness during the day (particularly dangerous while driving), impaired functioning of the memory, irritability and lack of concentration. If that wasn’t enough, the risks of heart diseases, hypertension, glaucoma and diabetes go up as well.
Man is sleeping in his bed at night
While sleep study is the only way to tell you if you have sleep apnea, there are a few signs which are generally indicative of this harrowing sleep disorder.
What to do?
Take a look at yourself at the mirror. Sleep apnea occurs when soft tissues at the very end of the mouth and the tongue fall back partially and block the air passages. A partial blockage is the thing that causes snoring.
Coupled with obesity, certain abnormalities of the neck and the head are linked with sleep apnea. These abnormalities impede proper circulation of air.
• A fat and large tongue: This one’s pretty well known. Research states that accumulated fat can also result in the tongue growing in length and girth. It also affects the normal muscle functions of the tongue, thus increasing probabilities of sagging and blocking air passage.
• A smaller maxilla (upper jaw bone) that looks disproportionate to the rest of your face. This is often the cause of under-bites.
• A smaller mandible (lower jaw bone) as compared with the rest of your face. This is often the cause of over-bites.
• A thick neck (exceeding 17 inches in males) and (exceeding 16 inches in females) makes it probable for the airway to collapse during your sleep. The increased girth of the neck may be caused by obesity (though not always).
• When the nose mid wall becomes crooked (a condition known as deviated septum), the nasal air passage can get severely obstructed.
The 3 major warning signs of sleep apnea are:
• Persistently loud snoring
• Halted breathing that is accompanied by episodes of gasping and choking
• Excessive tiredness and drowsiness during the day
Is snoring always a precursor to sleep apnea?
People who snore might not necessarily suffer from sleep apnea. However, people diagnosed with this condition usually snore. You should take to your doctor if you happen to snore so loudly so that it becomes disturbing for your partner or spouse.
Just like snoring, waking up from sleep to get some breath is also noticed by the partner.
People with acute cases of sleep apnea may sleep off abruptly during the middle of a meal or a conversation.
Other signs of sleep apnea include excessive urination and breathing through the mouth. If you wake up every-day with gummy front set of teeth and a dry mouth, you know it could be sleep apnea as well. Another less common symptom could be a strong urge to urinate. This happens because impaired breathing affects the heart, thus sending a hormone that regulates urination in overdrive. However, this happens in extreme cases.
Sleep apnea treatment
Treatment for this condition is generally multi-faceted:
• Incorporating certain changes in your lifestyle, the foremost of them being losing weight, can go a long way in keeping this condition in check.
Man with sleep apnea using CPAP machine wearing headgear mask connecting to air tube
• CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and other similar devices which help regulate and maintain continuous positive pressure of airway can be used. CPAP also helps regulate blood pressure levels, both during the day and night. Getting comfortable with the CPAP can take some time. You can always talk to your doctor regarding other masks and equipment which you are comfortable with. Remember that if you don’t use the CPAP device every night, the symptoms might just return in no time.
• Oral breathing equipment and other nasal dilators can be put to use effectively in correcting sleep apnea.
• Medications can be administered that help you fight drowsiness and stay awake the next morning. However, doctors usually don’t administer medications for treating obstructive sleep apnea. In case of children, if surgery isn’t a possibility or may not have worked, it is usually then that medicines are administered (intranasal corticosteroid medications).
Note: Medicines can help control daytime drowsiness and sleepiness. You must continue using CPAP in conjunction with medicines for a more holistic treatment of sleep apnea.
• Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is the most common method of surgery resorted to for correcting this condition in adults.
• Adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy constitutes the first line of defense in children.
• If other methods of treatments fail or the condition calls for immediate and prompt treatment, tracheostomy is recommended.
• MMA (Maxillo-mandibular advancement) moves both the upper and the lower jaw forward, so that the airway size is maximized.
• RFA (Radiofrequency ablation) is administered to reduce the girth of the tongue and other soft tissues which may be obstructing proper airflow to the patient’s lungs.
• Palatal implants (delicate plastic rods that are implanted inside the patient’s soft palate) stiffen the soft palate to prevent obstruction of airway by the tissues.
• Surgical procedures to correct tissue and bone abnormalities in the throat and mouth are other methods of surgery.
• Bariatric surgery- Weight loss achieved through this surgery can improve symptoms of sleep apnea.
• Nerve stimulation device
Doctors usually recommend trying lifestyle modifications and medications to treat sleep apnea. Surgery is usually resorted to if a blockage is causing sleep apnea.
Portea brings to you diagnostic test package which includes Sleep study along with free CPAP titration for 2 days for sleep related disorders and management of obstructive sleep apnea. With Portea, you can rent or buy a variety of sleep therapy equipment.
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