Sleep apnea can be a dangerous disorder but it is difficult to diagnose. The basic symptoms of this condition include pauses in the breather pattern while the person is sleeping. The episodes called apneas make the person miss between one and two breaths which equals about a ten second pause and these are often experiences repeatedly through the period of sleep.
The medical definition of an apnea requires the pause to be at least ten seconds accompanied by at least three seconds of neurological arousal and/or a de-saturation of the blood oxygen by approximately three or four percent.
This condition can be diagnosed through a sleep test conducted overnight. This test is called the polysomnogram. Sleep apnea as a disorder generally required the individual to have at least five apneas per hour.
Different Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Central which equals about 0.4% of those diagnosed, and is caused by the lack of effort in the central sleep apnea;
- Obstructive which equals about 84% of those diagnosed, and is caused by an obstruction of the air passageway;
- Complex, which is the combination of central and obstructive, equals about 15% of those diagnosed.
The Treatments Available for Sleep Apnea
There are several different treatments for this disorder, some more complex and proven than others.
- CPAP: This is the most commonly used treatment and it is also the treatment that remains consistently effective. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and it keeps the airway open by flowing pressurized air into the person’s throat. On top of this, a person can request a prescription for the oral appliance therapy (OAT) from a dentist that specializes in this type of condition. These appliances are only used for obstructive sleep apnea.
- Sleep in a Lateral Position: For reasons that still remain somewhat a mystery, there are individuals that find sleeping in a lateral position helps central sleep apnea.
- Medications: There are medications such as acetazolamide and other such things that encourage breathing and lower the pH of the blood. Sometimes low doses of oxygen are given but this is not recommended because of the side effects involved.
- Doing the Didgeridoo: According to a study completed by the British Medical Journal in 2005, learning how to do the didgeridoo and practicing it can reduce sleep apnea, snoring and sleepiness during the day because it strengthens the upper airway muscles.
- Green Tea: This tea is full of many good things and there are compounds in it that are said to help prevent neurological damage that may come with sleep disorders.
- Surgery: There are various surgeries that a person can undergo including the tracheostomy. Surgery is only used for the severe cases of sleep apnea where other methods have not been successful.