What is Sleep apnea ?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops for more than ten seconds during sleep. Sleep apnea is a major, though often unrecognized, cause of daytime sleepiness. It can have serious negative effects on a per-son’s quality of life, and is thought to be considerably underdiagnosed in the United States.
Treatment for sleep apnea
Treatment for sleep apnea begins with reducing the use of alcohol or tranquilizers in the evening, if these have been contributing to the problem. Quitting smoking is recommended for a number of health concerns in addition to OSA. Weight loss is also effective, but if the weight returns, as it often does, so does the apnea. Changing sleeping position may be effective. Snoring and sleep apnea are both most common when a person sleeps on his back. Turning to sleep on the side may be enough to clear up the symptoms. Raising the head of the bed may also help.
Opening of the nasal passages can provide some relief for sleep apnea sufferers. There are a variety of nasal devices such as clips, tapes, or holders which may help,though discomfort may limit their use. Nasal decongestants may be useful, but should not be taken for sleep apnea without the consent of the treating physician. Supplemental nighttime oxygen can be useful for some people with either central and obstructive sleep apnea.
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, the most successful Treatment for sleep apnea is nighttime use of a ventilator, called a CPAP machine.
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) blows air into the airway continuously, preventing its collapse. CPAP requires the use of a nasal mask. The appropriate pressure setting for the CPAP machine is determined by polysomnography in the sleep lab. Its effects are dramatic; daytime sleepiness usually disappears within one to two days after treatment begins.
Another approach – Treatment for sleep apnea involves the use of oral appliances intended to improve breathing either by holding the tongue in place or by pushing the lower jaw forward during sleep to increase the air volume in the upper airway. The first type of oral appliance is known as a tongue retaining device or TRD. The second type is variously called an oral protrusive device (OPD) or mandibular advancement splint (MAS), because it holds the mandible, or lower jaw, forward during sleep.
Surgery can be used to correct obstructions in the airway. The most common surgery is called UPPP, for uvulopalatopharynoplasty. This surgery removes tissue from the rear of the mouth and top of the throat. The tissues removed include parts of the uvula (the flap of tissue that hangs down at the back of the mouth), the soft palate, and the pharynx. Tonsils and adenoids are usually removed as well. This operation significantly improves sleep apnea in slightly more than half of all cases. Region-specific surgery has a cure rate of over 90%, though it may involve more than one surgical operation.
For people who snore frequently, weight control, smoking cessation, avoidance of evening alcohol or tranquilizers, and adjustment of sleeping position may help reduce the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.