Symptoms of and Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep condition caused by interruption of breathing during sleep. This interruption can cause a person to stop breathing several times during sleep. This can lead to the body being deprived of oxygen. There are two kinds of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is more of a problem with the tissue in the back of the throat. This tissue blocks the airway and the person is unable to breathe regularly. Central sleep apnea is where the brain does not signal the body to breath. This disorder is less common and very dangerous.
Symptoms of sleep apnea are: waking up with a very sore or dry throat, loud snoring, occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation, morning headaches, restless sleep, frequent awakening during the night. These can also all lead to a decreased interest in normal daily activities due to sleepiness.
Risk factors for sleep apnea include: over the age of forty, overweight, family history of sleep apnea, male gender, large neck size, smoking, large tonsils, and large tongue or small jaw bone, nasal obstruction due to deviated septum, allergies or sinus problems. If sleep apnea is untreated it can lead to other health conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes and depression. Treatment for sleep apnea can be a lifestyle change such as quitting smoking, losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, avoiding sleeping on your back and changing sleeping positions throughout the night. Treatment may be more extensive for moderate to severe sleep apnea cases. A devise called Continual Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) can be prescribed to aid sleep apnea. The CPAP consists of a mask that is worn over the mouth and nose which is hooked up to a machine that continuously moves air into the nostrils. This keeps the airway clear and is found to be a very effective treatment for sleep apnea. Another form of treatment is a dental device which can be custom molded by a dentist to help keep airways open throughout the night. Finally there are a few surgical procedures that can be performed to aid sleep apnea. Nasal surgery can correct problems such as a deviated septum and reopen airways. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgical procedure that removes soft tissue on the back of the throat. This procedure creates a larger, obstruction free airway. Mandibular maxillar advancement surgery is performed if the sleep apnea is due to abnormalities in the facial or throat.