Dec 8, 2020 by PrimeClean
More than 20 million Americans live with a condition known as sleep apnea. Children are believed to make up between 1 to 4% of this number. When left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to other conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, memory problems, and headaches.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is possibly the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The therapy includes regular usage of a CPAP device, which prevents the airway from collapsing while an individual is asleep. Besides CPAP, there are several home therapies that people living with sleep apnea can use to alleviate their condition.
In this article, we explore the 14 most common questions about sleep apnea and CPAP machines.
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes difficulty in breathing during sleep. The condition is defined by the health services provider MayoClinic.org as "a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts." This could disrupt the amount of oxygen an individual gets, disrupting some critical body functions.
MayoClinic.org categorizes sleep apnea into three types:
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the underlying causes of sleep apnea include obesity, having large tonsils, endocrine disorders, neuromuscular disorders, heart or kidney failure, specific genetic syndromes, and premature birth.
Sleep apnea can also be caused by muscular changes in the back of the throat during sleep and physical obstructions that restrict airflow caused by thickened tissues or fat stored around the airway.
The medical website, MedicalNewsToday.com, reports that brain function deficiencies that may cause breathing to malfunction can cause central sleep apnea (CSA). The same source also reports that CSA has been found to correlate with conditions like stroke and heart failure and the use of painkillers. It is also common among individuals who have recently ascended to a high altitude.
Some of the common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Mental issues such as forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex have also been linked with sleep apnea. Of course, these symptoms could also result from several other health conditions, thus the need to consult a professional if you experience most of the symptoms above. For children, one of the symptoms of sleep apnea is hyperactivity.
The factors contributing to increased chances of having sleep apnea can be genetic or anatomical (to do with the body structure). External factors have also been identified. We list some of the genetic or anatomical factors that increase the risk of sleep apnea below:
External factors that can increase the chances of having sleep apnea include:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke warns that sleep apnea does not only threaten the comfort of your sleep but can also threaten your life. When left untreated, sleep apnea leads to severe complications, including:
To determine whether you have sleep apnea, a doctor may do a polysomnogram, also known as a sleep study. This is a procedure that electronically tests (by recording brain waves) for specific physical activity while you sleep. When this procedure is complete, the results are sent to a sleep specialist for analysis.
To diagnose sleep apnea, symptoms like snoring and daytime sleepiness are used alongside measurement tests like the polysomnogram.
Setting up a sleep study device in your house with a trained therapist's help is possible. However, the National Center for Biotechnology Information's National Library of Medicine notes the advice of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM): "only a medical provider can diagnose medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and primary snoring."
Depending on the type of sleep apnea a patient lives with, treatments can either be in the form of surgery or therapy. For people with mild OSA, some types of mouthpieces that hold the jaw or tongue in a specific position are an option.
Treatment for central sleep apnea (CSA) usually involves managing the underlying condition, such as a brain infection, heart failure, altitude adjustment, and other factors that may have contributed to the breathing challenges that result in sleep apnea.
CPAP therapy is the treatment approach for patients with sleep apnea. A CPAP machine is a medical device used to provide a constant, gentle flow of pressurized air that prevents the collapse of the individual's airway during sleep.
The Alaska Sleep Clinic identifies three main parts of CPAP machines:
Home remedies for sleep apnea are predominantly linked to lifestyle changes. Some of the recommendations by the medical website HealthLine.com that people living with sleep apnea can use to alleviate the condition at home include:
Losing weight and maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
Changing your sleep position
Using a humidifier
Abstaining from alcohol and smoking
Using oral appliances
Other lifestyle changes that could make a difference include dealing with any allergies, establishing a good sleep routine, eating healthy, and ensuring that the place where you sleep is comfortable and clean.
Some of the main advantages of using a CPAP machine include:
Complications that may occur with CPAP therapy use include:
Other problems with CPAP machines that have been reported by patients include anxious and claustrophobic feelings, nosebleeds, and difficulty falling asleep.
The provider of sleep studies, coaching, and treatments, Sleep Health Solutions, advises that most patients feel CPAP therapy's effects as soon as they start the treatment. However, things are not always so simple for everybody. For some, the effects are cumulative, meaning that improvements only come with regular use of the machine for several weeks or even months.
Some of the discomfort caused by CPAP therapy can be alleviated by:
Get more information about how you can deal with the most common challenges associated with using CPAP machines here.