What is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea, or apnoea as it is also known, is a potentially life threatening medical condition. It is more common than has been thought. There are basically 3 types of sleep disorder:
Central sleep apnoea is caused by the brain not sending the proper signals to the breathing muscles to begin breathing while asleep. This results in the muscles not relaxing and remaining still while the person sleeps. If this occurs regularly then the person could develop what is called obstructive sleep apnoea. The third and final type of sleep disorder is obstructive hypercapulmonary apnoea which occurs when the muscles of the airway collapse due to lack of support. This type is the most common.
What are the symptoms of these conditions? The most common symptom is daytime sleepiness. People who have this condition wake up several times during the night because they can’t get back into a comfortable position to sleep. They wake up feeling lethargic, fatigued, and often with a sore throat. In some cases they may also experience headaches, nausea, sore throat, decreased taste buds, and chest pain.
How are these conditions caused? Central sleep apnoea includes a large variety of conditions including a collapsed airway or enlarged tonsils. Obstructive sleep apnoea includes various different symptoms such as a sore throat, snoring, choking during sleeping, snoring without orgasm, dry mouth, and headaches. All of these symptoms are caused by the airway collapsing and being unable to sustain normal breathing while asleep. As you can see, all three types are very different.
Can oral appliances to be used to treat sleep apnoea? Oral appliances are a form of treatment that consists of an appliance called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. The mask is worn during the night and moves with your mouth to keep the airway open. The masks can be custom-made to fit your mouth perfectly.
Treatment can be successful. The most common outcome is the stoppage of sleep Apnea episodes. However, some people suffer from central Sleep Apnea so strongly that no treatment is effective. They simply stop breathing for periods of time, then start again when they wake up. Some people have even died due to obstructive sleep apnoea.
If your doctor decides that oral devices will not help, he or she may recommend surgery. Typically, this treatment involves the removal of a large part of the soft palate, the uvula, and the tonsils. This allows the passage of more air through the upper airway muscles. Unfortunately, the majority of people who need surgery do not benefit at all from this treatment since the symptoms recur frequently after the surgery.
If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, do not take any chances. Call your doctor if you are worried about your symptoms. This could be the beginning stages of sleep apnea, which can turn into a deadly disease. It is worth your time to ask your doctor if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms. You might just save your life.