Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control centre.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud or frequent snoring
- Silent pauses in breathing
- Choking or gasping sounds
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Morning headaches
- Nocturia (waking during the night to go to the bathroom)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Decreased sexual desire
How is sleep apnea treated
In mild cases – The person may be advised to:
- AVOID SLEEPING ON HIS OR HER BACK
Throat tissues are most likely to sag and block the airway in this position.
- LOSE WEIGHT
In some cases, throat tissues are enlarged because of too much fat, or they collapse because of pressure from a heavy neck. Losing weight can make a big difference.
- STOP SMOKING
Smoking can swell throat tissues. This can add to throat blockage.
- AVOID DRUGS THAT CAUSE DROWSINESS
These include alcohol and tranquilizers. They can cause people with sleep apnoea to stop breathing more often or for longer periods of time.
Sleep apnea treatment in moderate to severe cases:
- CPAP can be very effective:
When properly used CPAP is one of the most effective treatments for Obstructive and Mixed sleep apneas. It can also help in some cases of Central sleep apnoea.