It has been reported by the American Sleep Apnea Association that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. For those living with this nightmare, there is good and bad news. The good news is that this sleep disorder is beginning to become more recognized, but the bad news is that it’s more hazardous than previously believed.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, also known as apnoea is a sleep disorder. When we sleep air enters our nose and travels down the throat, windpipe and enters into our lungs. Our throat is the most confined area in our process of breathing. When we sleep the back of our throat relaxes and becomes even narrower. This can cause vibrating within the throat and these vibrating results in snoring. With some people, the throat constricts so much (Obstructive sleep apnea) that not enough oxygen enters the lungs and it triggers the brain to alert the muscle to open the throat’s passageway.
This act of suffocation can occur all night long, never allowing the sufferer to enter deep sleep. You’ll feel drained the next day and feel sleepy throughout the day. Being in this state of sleep deprivation can lead to you making mistakes and not performing at your fullest potential. Sleep apnea is credited with causing pain and hundreds of injuries, including deaths and millions of dollars in damages.
What about Central Sleep Apnea?
This occurs when there is a failure in communication between the muscles and the brain.
What About Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome A.K.A. Mixed Sleep Apnea?
This is a result of the two aforementioned disorders combined.
The entinstitute.com breaks down into details the three major types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome
WebMD has a great article listing some of the ways sleep apnea can negatively affect your health, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Weight gain
- Adult asthma
- Acid reflux
- Car accidents
What Are The Options For Treating Sleep Apnea?
The path of combating sleep apnea will be arduous and must be undertaken with an open mind and a strong will. For a lot of sufferers, behavioral therapy bears fruit. Patients are told to not drink alcohol and to refrain from any type of sedative (sleeping pills) that might affect the throat.
Weight loss is another helpful avenue that has proven to give sleep apnea sufferers better night sleep. Surgery is yet another option that can help. They specifically target:
*Nasal passages (oropharynx passage, septoplasty and turbinate)
*pharyngeal obstruction (Tonsillectomy and uvulopalatopharyngoplasty)
What Is A CPAP Mask?
A lot of people have found success with the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask. This is a facial mask constructed of plastic that uses pressurized air to keep your airways open. Some who use the CPAP mask complain of discomfort, dry mouth, and sore gums. Some say they have a great night’s rest and wake up feeling invigorated.
We still have a long road ahead of us in combating sleep apnea, but with more awareness come a better soldier to aid in the fight to end this disorder.