Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous condition that is marked with breathing stopping and starting periodically. It can cause the affected person to gasp, choke, snore heavily, and stop breathing while he or she sleeps. A depletion the oxygen levels in the blood causes damage to the tissues within the body. The lack of oxygen leads to a decrease in the production of energy within the cells. Many people feel tired and exhausted after waking because they have gotten a poor night’s sleep. Prolonged episodes of oxygen deprivation, in the extreme case, can cause death.
The Basics of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that has three major types. The three major types are:
- Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain sends improper signals to the muscles regulating breathing. This most commonly occurs to people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
- Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles of the throat relax. This is the most common type of the three conditions. The airway is blocked for a few seconds to a few minutes.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome occurs when central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea both occur.
The Causes of Sleep Apnea
This condition has several causes. The structure of the mouth is important to breathing appropriately while sleeping. Enlarged structures such as the tonsils or the tongue can obstruct the airway. Nasal issues can also obstruct the airway. Nasal congestion, deviated septum, other factors can all obstruct airflow. Extra weight in the head and neck area can also affect the airway by narrowing it.
Symptoms that Qualify Candidates for CPAP Machine Treatment
A common way to diagnose the condition is to perform a sleep study. A sleep study takes a close look at eye movement, heart rate muscle activity, blood oxygen levels, respiratory effort and the quality of airflow. By assessing and analyzing these factors, the severity of the condition can be determined.
Treatment with a CPAP Machine
Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is the best treatment for obstructive form of this condition. It uses air pressure to keep the airway open during sleep. CPAP is administered through a mask, either a nasal mask or a mask that fits over the mouth. It provides a gentle flow of air into the back of the throat to prevent the airway from closing.
Many of the machines are no bigger than a lunch box. They can be adjusted for different air pressures, and have sensors to determine the best air pressure for you. They purify the surrounding air using a filter. Different length ones can be used to connect the mask to the machine.
Effectiveness of the CPAP Machine
CPAP is the most effective treatment for this condition. Patients who have used the CPAP machine have stated that after 6 weeks of use, CPAP treatment increased energy and mental sharpness during the day for many patients. It has also been proven to lower blood pressure. It can reverse most of the symptoms of sleep apnea when used every night.