Sleep Apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is a common sleep-related disorder occurring when your airway collapse during sleep. Persons suffering from the condition experience difficulties breathing because air cannot flow into or out of their mouth or nose even if they try to breathe. If the condition goes untreated, it can cause other health-related problems like high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cardiomyopathy.
The discovery of Sleep Apnea in the medical field was in 1965. Initially, it was “Pickwickian syndrome,” a name derived from Charles Dicken’s novel, “The Pickwick Papers,” later coined by a famous physician William Osler. According to the early report, the information described individuals suffering from severe cases, which caused decreased blood oxygen levels and increased carbon dioxide production in the body, resulting in congestive heart failure.
Researchers conducted more profound research on sleep apnea in the 1970s, and the researchers used a dog to perform a proposed tracheotomy treatment. Later, in 1981, Colin Sullivan developed a non-surgical treatment device, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The device uses a face mask connected directly to an air pump, giving a constant oxygen delivery to the body, especially during the night. Also, it keeps the airway open. The initial CPAPs were bulky and noisy, making the patients uncomfortable using them. Eventually, by the 1980s, new designs were developed which were quieter.
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The following are the common types of SA;
• Central Sleep Apnea occurs due to brain failure to send the correct signal to the breathing muscles.
• Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common type that occurs when your airway blocks either entirely or partially during sleep, causing your chest and diaphragm muscles to work harder as the pressure increases to open the airway.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Individuals suffering from this condition may not recognize the symptoms, but their bed partners do. The most common symptoms of OSA are;
• You snore a lot during sleep.
• You sweat excessively at night.
• Restlessness during sleep.
• You experience cognitive impairment like forgetfulness and lack of concentration.
• Frequent urination at night
• Mood swings due to depression and anxiety.
Risk factors associated with sleep apnea
Everyone is prone to Sleep Apnea. However, the following are risk factors associated with this condition;
• Being male
• Down syndrome
• Narrow upper jaw
• Large neck circumference
• Nasal congestion
• Sleep apnea history in the family
How to Diagnose Sleep Apnea
Your doctor may decide to have a sleep evaluation once you portray the above symptoms. He will conduct a Polysomnogram, PSG, a sleep study done in the laboratory under trained technologist supervision. The specialist will observe your eye movements, heart rates, muscle activity, breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, and airflow. The number of breathing impairments recorded will indicate how severe the condition is.
You can also do a Home Sleep Test, HST, although the method is not suitable for patients without symptoms.
Changing your lifestyle is the key to normalizing your breathing. You should strictly follow a heart-healthy diet, quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, manage your weight, and always sleep on the side to manage your condition.
Other treatment options you can opt to use are;
• CPAP therapy
• Use of MRD
• Use of medicines like triazolam, acetazolamide, and zolpidem According to 1993 research, one in fifteen people in America is affected by moderate sleep apnea. Fortunately, the condition is highly treatable and has numerous treatment plans.