It is not known to many but if sleep apnea goes untreated it could turn into a life threatening condition. This disorder is characterized by disruptions in normal breathing patterns when one is asleep. It goes on long enough for one or multiple breaths to be missed and such episodes may happen repeatedly throughout a particular sleeping session. The serious issue with this condition is that the affected people are not conscious when the condition is taking effect therefore it is impossible to control without seeking treatment.
The sufferers of sleep apnea are likely to only notice the after effects of the disorder that include sleepiness, fatigue and depression, which is experienced in the daytime. The destructive nature of this ailment could be obstructive meaning it restricts the airways or it could be central; meaning that there are lapses in brain signals, which enable breathing. Apnea has a major prevalence in people who are obese, alcohol drinkers as well as Down Syndrome sufferers and if it is untreated for long it may lead to brain damage as well as heart failure.
The obstructive type of sleep apnea can be effectively treated by using CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure method. This treatment for sleep apnea was produced by a scientist known as Colin Sullivan in 1981. There were some improvements that followed and in the 80’s this form of medication was widely used by the later part of the 80’s. A CPAP machine was invented and used to send a gust of air using a particular specific quantity of pressure into the airways of the patients using a mask. The air treatment offered significant relief to many sufferers, however many people were intimidated by the bulky equipment that was used for the procedure. With enhanced technological advantages, the bulky equipment has been replaced with lighter and more comfortable devices. This same treatment was used to treat excessive snoring. It should be noted that Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatments are not applicable to the central form of sleep apnea.
Severe forms of sleep apnea can be treated using another revolutionary piece of equipment known as the Bi level Positive Air Pressure Machine or BPAP. It directs pressure in 2 different levels. The patient is meant to take in a higher pressure of air and exhale using a lower level. There are also various oral appliances that are used to try and open the air passages through the mouth and keep them unobstructed. This is however used for milder forms of sleep apnea.
In some cases, the option of surgery may arise and it is normally considered when there are certain physical abnormalities that need to be corrected. Medical operations are also used when the air passages need to be increased in size. During the procedure, surgeons may extract adenoids, tonsils, excess tissue behind the throat or within the nose. In extreme cases, the surgeons may even have to restructure the jaw in order to make the upper air passage larger. Medical operations are normally the last resort and the outcome is usually long lasting thus providing a permanent solution to the symptoms of sleep apnea. However, surgery brings with it the risks of complications as well as infections and should only be considered when all other sleep apnea medications have failed to be effective. The procedure should be carried out by a well qualified ENT doctor.
Alternative sleep apnea treatments have also become common and many people prefer them because of the minimal risk factors involved and ease of use. Homeopathy is one of these methods and it involves the use of small doses of natural remedies taken over a period of time. The popular homeopathic ingredients that are used in the treatment of sleep apnea include opium and Lachesis. A special diet is also recommended by homeopathic doctors to ensure that the treatment works more effectively and to boost energy levels. There is a therapy known as essence treatment that uses scents to help ease the effects of obstructive sleep apnea. The aromatic smells are said to calm the air passage ways and ease the process of breathing.
Considering that people who are overweight are the most affected by this condition, an exercise regimen and other weight loss measures would go a long way in treating the effects of sleep apnea. Some other basic actions that should be taken if one is afflicted by sleep apnea include keeping away from alcohol and sleeping pills, which could further depress the process of breathing. Sleeping while facing upwards is also discouraged because when the body is in this position, the respiratory system tends to get compressed leading to breathing difficulty. While sleeping, the head should be slightly raised in an elevated position for easier breathing.
Although a complete cure for this condition is not available, there are many sleep apnea treatments whose main aim is to reduce the symptoms of the disorder. Consultation with a medical professional is necessary in order to establish what form of treatment would best be fitted. Some studies have shown that there is evidence that sleep apnea could be passed on to children through the genes. This issue has however not been completely established.
A proper diagnosis should be carried out by a medical expert to ensure whether this condition exists or not. A self diagnosis can be carried out by anyone who suspects the onset of this condition. This can be done by keeping and updating a diary, which outlines sleeping habits as well as any effects that may be felt during the day. A partner, roommate or friend could also assist by monitoring the level of snoring as well as breathing patterns and recording all the observations in the diary. One could also make a recording of sleeping sounds, which can be used by doctors to make a comprehensive diagnosis. Some medical facilities are equipped with sleep monitoring chambers or sleep labs that can be used in the diagnosis process. The sleep apnea treatments that follow should be appropriately matched to fit the form of apnea.
There are many complications that can be caused by this condition and it is always advisable to make a diagnosis of this condition as early as possible. It is difficult to make a diagnosis early when the person stays alone as this condition is in most cases identified by another person. One has to pay attention in order for them to diagnose these signs. Treatment is available for all the above symptoms as well as the condition.