Sleep apnea is a very common condition. It affects as much as 50% of the population in the US, with varying degrees of severity. In most cases, the condition is quite mild and can be controlled easily either with medication or a local device. In some rare cases, however, the condition becomes so severe that it can threaten your livelihood and lifestyle, and in that case, surgery is often needed. Regardless of the type of treatment, all these modalities fall under the umbrella of sleep apnea therapy. So, what exactly is sleep apnea? What are its causes? What is sleep apnea therapy? Let’s explore this condition.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing during sleep. In most cases it is only partial due to obstruction of the airway, making breathing quite difficult, but in some severe cases, breathing can stop completely.
Mostly, you wouldn’t feel this happening as it happens during deep sleep. However, it is usually noticed by your partner or parent or someone you share the room with.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is mostly a genetic condition. For that reason, if one of your parents or relatives have it, then you may have it too. In some cases, it is so mild that it is hardly noticeable and therefore would require no treatment. Some people are more liable for sleep apnea such as obese people, people with large tonsils, and people with hormonal imbalances.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea generally means obstruction of the breathing airway, which is accompanied by symptoms such as:
- Loud snoring.
- Gasping or catching your breath during sleep.
- Insomnia, as the shortness of breath usually wakes you up.
- Dry mouth due to breathing through the mouth rather than the nose.
- Not getting enough sleep, so you’d wake up feeling tired and probably with a headache.
Again, it is important to note that most of these symptoms are reported by your partner – not yourself.
What is Sleep Apnea Therapy?
Sleep apnea therapy is a group of treatments designed to control or eliminate the condition. The first step is accurately diagnosing the condition and selecting the most suitable treatment plan. This is done through a group of specialists including an ENT specialist, a heart-and-lung specialist, and of course a dentist.
The treatment usually starts simple and conservative, by constructing devices that help you breathe easier. In some cases, a simple device constructed by the dentist could help prevent the tongue from falling backward and blocking the airway.
However, the most common device is known as the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). This device is designed to forcefully blow air into your nose and mouth through a mask that you wear at night, opening the airways and making breathing easier.
In severe cases where devices are not functional, then surgery would probably be needed.
So, there’s your answer to what is sleep apnea therapy. The treatment usually continues for years and would need careful follow-ups with a specialist, and we are here to help.
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