July 27, 2015Sleep Apnea 0
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is the most common type of sleep apnea. During sleep, it is natural for the muscles in the body to relax. However, in the throat, the airway is made up of soft tissue walls that are collapsible. When these soft tissues relax during sleep, they obstruct the passageway, causing obstructive sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome
It is possible to know if you have sleep apnea by keeping an eye on these symptoms. They include –
• Snoring loudly
• Awakening with a sore throat or dry mouth
• Difficulty in remaining asleep during the night
• Cessation of breathing during sleep as witnessed by bed partner
• Headache in the morning or soon after getting up
• Excessive tiredness and sleepiness during daytime
• Unable to hold attention on one thing for a long time
• Problems with learning or memory
• Feeling irritable or depressed during the day
• Waking up frequently during the night to urinate
When to Consult a Doctor
It is advisable to see a doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms. Keep a look out especially for these symptoms –
• The volume of your snoring is so loud that it disturbs the sleep of yourself or others
• Your sleeping partner notices intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep
• You are excessively drowsy and feel tired during the daytime, where you fall asleep during work, while watching TV, or even while driving.
• You are awakened from your sleep by the shortness of your breath.
Generally, people do not take snoring seriously, and it is also true that everyone who has sleep apnea need not be snoring. However, if you are loud snorer and if your snoring is paused by periods of silence then it is cause for concern.
In obstructive sleep apnea the back muscles in your throat relaxes, which supports the soft palate, sidewalls of the throat, and the tonsils. Due to this relaxation, the airway closes or narrows while breathing in and you are unable to take in adequate air. Your brain may sense this happening and you might be briefly roused from sleep for reopening of the airway. At such time you might make a gasping, choking or snorting sound, as the normal air flow resumes. However, after some time it again goes back to restricted passageway and the whole cycle could be repeated five to thirty times in an hour of sleep. This means you hardly get any restful sleep or deep sleep, which makes you tired, sleepy, and irritated during the daytime. On the other hand, you might feel that you have slept well, since hardly anybody with obstructive sleep apnea thinks that they had disturbed sleep.
For mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, doctors often prescribe lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or losing weight. If these changes do not work or if your disorder is medium to severe then the following therapies could be helpful.
Devices and Machines
CPAP is a popular device for treating obstructive sleep apnea. The person has to wear a mask while sleeping and the device delivers pressure through this mask, which keeps the airway open. Even though this is an effective device, many people find it cumbersome to wear a mask while sleeping.
Sometimes surgical procedures are carried out on the nose, upper throat, or lower throat for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Structural issues like a deviated septum can cause snoring, which can be effectively treated with surgery. Another surgical option is RFTR (Radiofrequency turbinate reduction), UPPP & other surgical procedures on the palate, uvula, tonsils, back of tongue, and upper part of the voice box are also done, and the type of procedure will depend on the specific issue that is causing the snoring. Surgery can be an effective option for treating obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.