Understanding Sleep Apnea
The obstruction that blocks your ability to breathe smoothly during sleep is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It affects millions of adults and the disease has been found taking over many more people over the last decade. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that brings a lot of changes and disturbance in one’s daily routine. This may further lead to medical complications and can have serious effects on health. Nobody wants to live with so many complications in their lives and for that matter, there are certain therapies that can help your airways to open and assist you in having a normal breathing phenomenon with good night sleep.
With the help of sleep study, the medical history and the symptoms a doctor may recommend a change in lifestyle that can help a person in recovering from sleep apnea. Apart from that, there are certain machines available in the market that also provides great relief in recovering from OSA.
Suggestive Lifestyle Changes
Sometimes change in lifestyle alone can help a person from recovering from sleep apnea if it is in its initial phase that can be called mild sleep apnea. Even if a person requires further treatment then also these lifestyle changes are highly recommended.
- Losing weight:
Losing weight is highly recommended when a person is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea especially if you are obese. It really helps a lot in getting rid of this problem as when you lose weight, it also helps you get rid of the extra fat in your throat. This further relieves you of the constriction in your airway and restore to normal breathing.
- Sleeping on your side:
Sleeping on your side can help you a lot in tackling this problem. When we sleep on our back then our tongue and soft palate fall back into our throat and thus block the airway. On the other hand Sleeping on either of your sides helps a lot if you are suffering from Obstructive sleep apnea.
- Avoid taking alcohol:
Taking alcohol late during the day can aggravate the problem of sleep apnea. Alcohol makes you stay asleep for long hours and prevent you from waking up. This can make the condition go out of proportion, so one should avoid it.
- Taking certain drugs:
Certain medications that include sleeping pills, tranquilizers, or opioids can make you sleep for long hours. It can further relax the muscles of your throat and cause your airway to collapse. This can increase snoring and aggravate sleep apnea.
- Quitting smoking:
Quitting smoking can be of great help in alleviating the symptoms of sleep apnea. Smoking results in increasing upper airway inflammation and reducing the normal functions that can worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
Exercise can help a lot in reducing the symptoms and getting rid of sleep apnea. Regular exercise may reduce daytime sleepiness, improve sleep, and reduce weight and inflammation. Exercise also improves muscle tone in the throat and airways helping the patents of sleep apnea.
Treatment with breathing machines
Apart from the behavioral changes and changes in the lifestyle, there are certain other treatments where the use of machines that helps in treating Sleep apnea is used.
During this treatment, machines are used that provide a gentle flow of filtered air with pressure to keep your airway open into your airway via a tube that is attached to a face mask which is worn by the patient over the nose and the mouth. These help in removing obstructions and breathe normally during sleep.
Continuous positive airway pressure machines are used to treat Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). These machines provide the flow of pressurized air into the airway prescribed by the physician. Throughout the duration of the sleep, the pressure remains constant and maintains itself without any variation. During inhalation and exhalation, the pressure setting also remains the same. A Philips CPAP machine is considered as one of the most preferred choices for treating sleep apnea.
Bi-level Positive airway pressure offers two levels of airway pressure. This allows you to have two different settings for inhaling and exhaling air called IPAP and EPAP (expiratory pressure setting) respectively. It is set at two different pressures that help you have a smooth breathing experience during sleep. These machines blow more pressure when you inhale and less pressure when you exhale. They strengthen the weak breathing pattern in individuals suffering from sleep apnea.
Automatic airway pressure has a pre-set pressure range and works automatically to adjust the pressure range. The physician sets the pressure between two ranges (high and low) and the machine fluctuates between the two as per the need throughout the sleep.
Expiratory Positive airway pressure device:
These are small single-unit devices that are small enough to fit in each nostril. It allows air to flow in freely and closes the valve when you breathe out thus increasing the air pressure in the airway to remain open. This is designed for patients who are not comfortable with CPAP machines.
It’s a smart machine that is similar to working in CPAP Machines in delivering positive air pressure to your airways. It is designed to record and learn your breathing pattern during sleep and store that information so that it can be used further to normalizes the breathing pattern.
The other treatments apart from using machines and changing lifestyles are as follows:
- Removal of tissue from the back of the mouth and top of the throat in which tissues from tonsils, adenoids, uvula, and other tissue from this area is removed.
- Reconstructing the facial structure to open the airway which may include repositioning the jaw.
- Tracheostomy is the procedure in which an opening is created in the neck and a breathing tube is inserted in the trachea to allow unobstructed breathing.
- Surgeries like weight loss, gastric bypass, and nasal surgery may help in treating sleep apnea.
- Implantation of a Neurostimulation Device is done underneath the skin of the neck and the chest which is similar to a pacemaker that monitors breathing patterns and offers mild stimulation to help keep the airway open as when needed.