Are you waking up more often to use the bathroom at night? Do you have headaches or dry mouth in the morning? Is your partner starting to lose sleep over your snoring? If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might be one of the millions of people with sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing is routinely interrupted while they sleep. Episodes of apnea, or cessation of breathing, can last a few seconds to a few minutes. Overtime, these little moments without taking a breath add up and lead to serious, lasting problems within the human body.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When sleep apnea occurs as a result of a narrowed or blocked upper airway, this is called “Obstructive Sleep Apnea,” or OSA. A narrowed throat is sometimes the result of a person’s sleeping position, excess weight around the chest or neck, as well as chronic nasal or sinus problems. OSA is most likely caused by a combination of these factors.
Central Sleep Apnea
Although Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common form of the condition, “Central Sleep Apnea,” is also a possible explanation for nighttime breathing problems. Where OSA is caused by something impacting the ability of air to pass through a person’s throat, CSA results from an inability of the brain to send important signals to respiratory muscles.
The brain stem is the area of the brain responsible for breathing. Using the neuromuscular system, its job is to tell the muscles to move air in and out of the lungs. Failure to maintain steady breath during sleep due to CSA can be caused by illnesses affecting the brain stem such as Parkinson’s Disease or a brain infection. Physical injury or opioid-based medications like morphine can also cause this part of your brain to function improperly.
Treating Sleep Apnea
In cases of Central Sleep Apnea, medical professionals will decide whether or not the underlying cause of the brain issue is treatable. In many circumstances, like Parkinson’s Disease, eliminating the illness is not an option. When this is the case, the gold standard treatment of Central Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the same.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy is generally the first step in sleep apnea treatment. CPAP machines work by increasing the pressure in the throat so that the airway is unable to collapse and cause obstruction. CPAP therapy is safe and starts working right away, stopping snoring and, more importantly, getting oxygen where it needs to go.
In both forms of sleep apnea, some patients may need another type of therapy called Bi-pap, or bi-level positive airway pressure. Bi-pap adjusts the pressure of a person’s airway depending on whether they are breathing in or out.
In serious cases of OSA, surgery to correct sinuses, adenoids, or tongue issues may be necessary. In CSA, a person may need alternate ventilation devices or medications.
More often than not, CPAP machines are enough to manage breathing during the night so that sleep apnea sufferers can immediately begin getting better sleep.
What if I’m Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea?
If you’ve been diagnosed with Sleep apnea, never fear. Whether it’s Central or Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the condition is very treatable. Talk to your doctor about CPAP therapies and check out a trusted CPAP supply retailer. The respiratory therapists at Breatheeasycpap.com would like to help you treat your sleep apnea with quality and competitively priced CPAP machines, sleep apnea masks, and the rest of your CPAP system needs.