Obstructive Apnea†And How To Treat It
A potentially serious sleep disorder which affects at least twenty percent of Americans is sleep apnea. This is when a personís breathing pauses while they are sleeping and it happens at least five times every hour. This can lead to many problematic symptoms such as those related to sleep deprivation, because the condition does just that: causes sleep deprivation.
There are a few different types of this disorder but the most common by far is obstructive sleep apnea. This is when the airway is obstructed which causes the breathing to stop for a period of time. The obstruction is due to structures in the mouth that are not properly supported. All of our muscles relax when we sleep but for some, when the muscles in the throat relax it can cause them to collapse, closing the airway.
The same tendency is what leads to snoring, except the airway is not blocked completely, just partially, causing the structures to vibrate as the air goes past creating the snoring noise. Snoring is almost always a part of sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
Obstructive apnea has a number of different treatment options. First of all, obesity is often a contributor to the problem because excess fat on the neck makes the air passageways more constricted anyway. For this reason weight loss can be helpful in treating obstructive apnea.
One of the most common treatments involves an oxygen machine known as a CPAP that is used during the night. It sends oxygen through a mask worn by the sufferer and keeps the airways open with a constant flow of air. This is a very effective method in most cases, but can be uncomfortable and is not a permanent solution to the problem.
There are also a few different types of sleep apnea surgery that you can have to help open up the airway. The surgery needs to be tailored specifically to your anatomy because it can be done on the base of the tongue, the throat the nasal passage etc. The tissue is tightened up and allows the area to keep its shape even during night time relaxation of muscles.
Other apnea surgeries include those in which the jaw is moved forward to create more space in the airway and different surgeries to help stiffen the tissues in the throat area.
As with most medical problems, it is best first to use non invasive means to treat the condition such as a special pillow to change your sleeping position or doing throat exercises. If these donít work, and you are for some reason unable to use a CPAP machine, surgery is a good option that your doctor can help you look into.
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