What is Sleep Apnea? How Is It Treated?

What is sleep apnea and how is it treated?
What is sleep apnea and how is it treated?

Sleep apnea, also known as just apnea, is an important disease that is caused by breathing pauses during sleep and causes disruption of sleep patterns. This disease is defined as stopping of breathing for at least 10 seconds during sleep. One of the most important symptoms of the disease is snoring, but not all snorers may have sleep apnea. Snoring alone causes restriction of air flow. This, in turn, negatively affects breathing and increases the risk of heart attack. If there are other symptoms along with snoring, sleep apnea can be mentioned. This disease is extremely important for a healthy life. The discomfort, which causes problems such as insomnia and lack of concentration during daytime, also negatively affects the quality of life.

How much it affects the quality of life can be understood by asking sleep apnea patients. Common complaints of patients with advanced sleep apnea are snoring, frequent waking at night, not getting enough quality sleep and daytime sleepiness. They also have trouble waking up. Since the patient cannot sleep in a quality way, he draws attention with his sleepy state while working or in social life. Due to sleepiness and distraction, life can become unbearable after a while. It can also upset those around them due to intense stress and tension.

Sleep apnea usually occurs with the complaint of snoring. It is considered one of the most serious health problems today. It causes inability to breathe during sleep, especially with obstruction of the upper respiratory tract. In addition, it may occur because the nervous system cannot control the respiratory muscles sufficiently while the person is asleep. Both types of apnea can be experienced together or successively. These are types of sleep apnea. There are 3 types of sleep apnea disease.

Sleep apnea is a type of disease. Each type can occur for different reasons. Although simple snoring disorder and upper respiratory tract resistance syndrome are not types of sleep apnea, sleep apnea may occur with the progression of these disorders. Types of sleep apnea can be specified as OSAS, CSAS, and MSAS.

  • OSAS = Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome = Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
  • CSAS = Central sleep apnea syndrome = Central sleep apnea syndrome
  • MSAS = Mixed sleep apnea syndrome = Compound sleep apnea syndrome

The most common type of sleep apnea, which can be categorized according to the cause and shape of its occurrence in the body, is obstructive sleep apnea (OSAS). The characteristic of obstructive sleep apnea is that it causes a physical obstruction in the airways. The reason for its occurrence is particularly related to the tissues of the upper respiratory tract. There are patients who find a complete solution with surgery, as well as people who have had surgery and experience sleep apnea again after a while. Most of the patients who underwent surgery state that they recovered from the disease for a while, but that they experienced the same problems again after 1-2 years. There are also those who completely recover from the disease with surgery. In order to make a correct decision about surgical intervention, it is necessary to be examined by several different sleep physicians.

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a physical obstruction in the upper airways. The reason for this is mostly tissues such as the root of the tongue, soft parts of the palate and tonsils. In addition, obstruction may occur due to different physiological problems. Sagging of the tissues in the neck area may occur due to gravity and age. This can lead to increased congestion. Obstructive sleep apnea can be seen more, especially in people with fatty and thick neck structure.

Breathing effort continues as soon as obstructive sleep apnea occurs. Muscles try to breathe due to signals from the brain, but due to the obstruction in the respiratory tract, air does not reach the lungs. Respiratory problems cause a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the blood and an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide. Therefore, the rate of oxygen to the brain tissues decreases. The brain often perceives this and tries to make breathing return to normal by reducing the depth of sleep. In this situation, the person continues to breathe normally, usually with a loud grunt. Most of the time, the patient does not fully wake up and his sleep begins to deepen again when breathing returns to normal. Sometimes, due to the depth of sleep, sometimes due to the lying position, breathing stops or slows down many times throughout the night may be experienced. A person who cannot stay asleep for a long time does not feel rested when he wakes up.

There are several methods of treating obstructive sleep apnea. One of these is surgery. The other is the use of intraoral apparatus. These apparatuses pull the lower jaw forward and keep the airway open. It is generally thought to be effective in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea syndrome and snoring. The third method is PAP (positive airway pressure) treatment, ie breathing apparatus treatment. PAP treatment is preferred because it is more effective than others and it is the method with the least side effects. The respirator recommended by the doctor should be used as long as the disease continues. This method usually does not heal completely. For this reason, the person uses the breathing apparatus in every sleep throughout his life. In some periods, the parameters needed for treatment can be changed by the doctor. This situation is related to the change in the physiological structure and disease level of the patient. Some of the sleep apnea patients who are especially obese state that the effects of the disease decrease as they lose weight. In addition, the number of people who can lose weight after using the device is quite high.

Infections from childhood can cause excessive wear of the upper respiratory tract. Problems that cause obstructive sleep apnea in this type of person may arise at an earlier age. The disease can be seen not only in adults but also in children. According to researches, sleep apnea is observed in 2% of children worldwide. Since sleep apnea is a syndrome disease, it can occur for different reasons and in different ways. Not every sleep apnea symptom alone refers to the disease. The subject should be viewed in a broad framework. Treatment processes after the disease occurs may also be different for each patient.

Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, which is related to the nervous system. This is also called central sleep apnea (CSAS). It is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs due to the inability of the central nervous system to send signals to the respiratory muscles correctly. It can be classified within itself. There are several types such as primary central sleep apnea, central sleep apnea due to Cheyne-Stokes breathing, and so on. In addition, their treatment methods may differ. Generally, PAP (positive airway pressure) treatment is applied. In particular, it is recommended to use respirators called ASV, which are among the PAP devices. Device type and parameters should be determined by a physician and the patient should use the device as determined by the doctor. Apart from this, there are also different treatment methods. We can list the treatments for central sleep apnea as follows:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Carbon dioxide inhalation
  • Respiratory stimulants
  • PAP therapy
  • Phrenic nerve stimulation
  • Cardiac interventions

Which of these will be applied and how is determined by the physicians according to the condition of the disease.

Sleep apnea alone poses serious health risks and can lead to different diseases. One of the most important diseases caused by sleep apnea is hypertension. Although there is no direct relationship between hypertension and sleep apnea, 35% of apnea patients have signs of hypertension. This shows that it has an indirect effect.

Sleep apnea is a syndrome disorder. Many different ailments come together to form this disease. People with sleep apnea can experience symptoms similar to many other diseases. Stress increases in people who lack oxygen and cannot get enough sleep, and therefore different diseases begin to emerge. Some of these are chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

With simple precautions, it is possible to reduce the effects of sleep apnea and related problems. The most important of these are that physical activity and a healthy eating culture are at the focal point of our lives. These are standards that everyone should follow without waiting to be sick anyway.

As the weight decreases to normal levels, the problems caused by the disease begin to decrease. In addition, the use of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products negatively affects this disease. When these are not used, the effects of the disease are reduced. Not sleeping on your back and choosing the right pillow can help reduce symptoms.

Frequent cessation of breathing during sleep is the most important finding that indicates sleep apnea. This situation is often accompanied by snoring. During sleep, restlessness, frequent urination, dry mouth, sweating and snoring are among the symptoms of sleep apnea. Some of the symptoms after sleep can be listed as headache, drowsiness, depression, lack of concentration and waking up tired from sleep. It should not be forgotten that sleep apnea seriously increases the risk of heart attack. Even sudden deaths during sleep may be caused by this disease. Since the disease causes a decrease in oxygen, fat burning will also decrease and stress will occur in the body due to lack of oxygen. It should not be ignored that sleep apnea may be under the difficulty in losing weight.

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