Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which your breath becomes very shallow and you may even stop breathing for a brief period while being asleep. On case of some people, it can happen many times in a row during night time. This condition occurs during blockage of upper airway partly or fully while you sleep. That makes your chest muscles and diaphgram harder to open the obstructed airways and pull the air into the lungs. Usually, breathing resumes with a loud body jerk, snort, or gasp. You probably won’t be aware that this is happening to you and you are not getting a proper shut eye at night. This condition is known to reduce the oxygen flow to the vital organs and lead to irregular heart rhythms. You are more likely at a risk of getting obstructive sleep apnea if you are obese or overweight, have a large or thick neck, or have smaller throat, nose, or mouth airways. The major risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, being at a risk for a stroke or heart failure and diabetes.
Diagnosis is done by a checkup from a doctor, questions by him/her to your family members about your sleeping habits, followed by a series of lab tests. Treatment methods include nasal sprays, CPAP machine, oral devices, and surgery.
There are various studies which track how many times your breathing was impaired during your sleep. These studies include diagnosis tests which monitor the air flow, blood oxygen levels, muscle activity, heart rate, eye movements, electrical brain activity, and breathing patterns. These studies then bring results which help your doctor to device the best suited treatment regimen.
If nasal congestion or sinus problems make it harder for you to breathe, you must opt for nasal sprays. It is the most convenient and cost-effective form of treatment. A CPAP machine is a mask that you have to wear over your mouth or nose, or both. It works by forcing a continuous and constant air through the nose or mouth by an air blower. The pressure of air does not let the upper airway tissue collapse during sleep. There are other types of positive airway pressure devices too that are available, like the BPAP (two levels of air flow known to differ with breathing in and breathing out). Oral devices work by keeping the airway open during sleep and is mostly for people with mild sleep apnea, or oral ‘’mandibular advancement’’. The surgical method include an upper airway stimulator which is a device called Inspire. It consists of a small pulse generator that is placed under the skin in the upper chest. Your natural breathing pattern is detected by a wire leading to the lung. Mild stimulations are then delivered to nerves that control the airway muscles by keeping them open, through a second wire. A doctor uses an external remove to program the device.
Patients with mild sleep apnea are eligible for the treatment of CPAP therapy, nasal spray and oral devices. Patients with severe breathing problems making them unable to inhale or exhale comfortably are eligible for the surgical treatment as this problem can be life-threatening.
Patients which chronic obstructive sleep apnea are not eligible for the treatment of oral devices, nasal spray and CPAP therapy. They need a nasal surgery as the oxygen will not reach their organs and the body will become weak.
The side effects associated with oral devices are tooth discomfort, muscular discomfort or TMJ (jaw joint), and bite or tooth movement changes. Side effects of CPAP masks include claustrophobia, nasal congestion, runny nose or rhinitis. Lastly, the side effects of surgery comprise of damage to the skull or base of the eyes, bleeding, sinus problems, loss of taste, loss of sense of smell, and many more.
Your doctor will provide you a few instructions regarding how to maintain a healthy lifestyle so as to prevent this condition from coming back again. Losing weight by even 10% will make a big difference to your breathing issues. So exercise on a regular basis. Yoga and meditation will also help cure your sinusitis problem. Avoid the consumption of alcohol and stop smoking. This makes the airways susceptible to collapse during sleep. Avoid taking sleeping pills as it lengthens the time of breathing obstruction at night. Sleeping at your side may help you to a great deal in case of mild sleep apnea.
It takes a total of 18 months of CPAP therapy for a noticeable change to occur. Sleeping patterns are seen to become better and weariness gets reduced to a great extent. Breathing becomes more comfortable than before and sinus problems are reduced.
The price of treatment ranges between Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000. On the other hand, the cost of oral devices ranges between Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 2,500.
Only the result of the surgical treatment is permanent. The result of CPAP masks, oral devices and nasal sprays are temporary if the lifestyle habits are not altered.
There are several home remedies to treat or prevent obstructive sleep apnea. These remedies include humidifying your bedroom, reaching and maintain a healthy weight, avoiding the overuse of sedatives, considering the use of a sleep device or a snore guard temporarily, treating acid reflux, cough and congestion, and adjusting your sleeping position in a way it suits your breathing best.