Understanding Sleep Apnea
Recognizing Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a disorder that affects the way a person breathes while they are sleeping. Over 18 million people living in the United States suffer from this disorder. Although some people may believe it is a relatively new condition, OSA is something that has been around for centuries. However, recently it has become more prevalent due to larger numbers of people suffering from obesity in the United States and around the world.
How Is OSA Detected?
There are a few different signs to look out for if you think you or someone you know is suffering from sleep apnea. Some of the most common signs of this condition include:
· Extremely loud snoring at night
· Difficulty falling asleep
· Dry mouth after waking up in the morning
While these are common signs, not everyone realizes they are experiencing them. Some people may believe that what they are experiencing is perfectly normal. The only way to know for sure if someone has OSA is to undergo a series of sleep studies. During a sleep study, the patient is hooked up to a machine that monitors just about everything, including the movements their eyes make while they are sleeping, their heart rate, and several other bodily functions and activities. The information provided by the sleep study gives physicians a chance to detect sleep apnea, diagnose the patients, and provide a list of treatment options that may help to improve the way the patient sleeps and thus improving their waking hours as well.
What Types of Treatments Help?
There are a number of different treatments that may work well at putting a stop to OSA, and the treatments may change from patient to patient, depending on a few different factors, including the initial cause of OSA. For example, some patients have this condition because they are severely overweight. Making healthy lifestyle changes could improve sleep and eliminate the condition altogether. If the physician believes weight loss will help, he or she may recommend that that patient start following a strict diet.
While dieting is one way to treat sleep apnea, there are other treatment options offered to patients, as well. A patient may need to wear a CPAP mask or undergo surgery to have their tonsils removed. The mask sends fresh air through the nose so that the patient can breathe correctly while sleeping. On the other hand, there are some people who suffer from OSA because their airway is obstructed by enlarged tonsils and adenoids. In those cases, it may be best to go through with the surgery.
Understanding sleep apnea is important for a number of reasons. Many people have heard about the condition, but are unaware of the negative side effects it can have on their waking hours. The condition is serious because it can make it difficult to breathe while sleeping and could even lead to death if it continuously goes untreated. Learning more about the signs and symptoms, along with how it is detected, is the first step in recognizing and treating OSA.
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