Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder. It is a form of sleep disorder that features aberrated pauses in the pattern of breathing. Each of the pauses between breaths is referred to as 'apnea'. It could also occur when breathing is uncharacteristically low during sleep. Apnea comes from a Greek word, 'apnoia', i.e 'without breath'.

       As the case should be under normal conditions, breathing is rhythmic due to the periodic pauses.  Sleep apnea disorder occurs when the breathing is no longer rhythmic and the pauses, inevitably are also no longer periodic. When breathing is irregular, each abnormal pause of breath is referred to as 'hypopnea'. It should be noted that when the breathing pattern is regular, each pause is known as 'apnea' but when the breathing pattern is irregular, each irregular pause is known as 'hypopnea'.

A number of health services are needed in managing or treating sleep apnea, ranging from surgery to sterling orthodontics.

         The signs of sleep apnea

It is rare for individuals suffering from this disorder to be aware of it. Most of them are oblivious to the presence of the disorder. There are specific symptoms that are indicative of sleep apnea. Here are the main symptoms :

1.  An inability to sleep (Insomnia)

2. Laborious breathing while sleeping

3. Irregular sleeping patterns

4. Drowsiness during the day

5. Night Sweats

6. Ear-splitting and irregular snoring

However, there are other signs that can indicate sleep apnea. They are:

1. Amnesia

2. Tiredness

3. Depression

4. Headaches in the morning

5. Lack of concentration

6. Learning difficulties especially when new ideas are introduced

7. Feeling irritable

8. Depression

9. Urinating repeatedly during the night.   

     Causes of Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is caused either by an increase in fat or by the loss in tone of muscles. The latter is common in old age. As a result of this disorder, the tracheal muscles ("trachea" is the windpipe), and the uvula ("uvula" is the triangular shaped small fleshy tissue hanging from the center in the back of the throat), the muscles of the soft palate at the root of the tongue sag to a particular degree and falls while breathing occurs. In other words, the windpipe is rigid. In addition, the layers of the windpipe cleave together. This reduces the volume of air available to the lungs.

Sleep apnea can be caused by the malfunctioning of the neurons in control of the process of breathing during sleep. An overnight polysomnogram test is effective in the diagnosis of the disorder. This test is majorly used for the purpose of discovering various sleeping disorders and other connected problems.

           Effects of Sleep Apnea

 This sleep disorder may seem inconsequential but it could result in other health issues that are of grave consequences. If it is not treated, it could lead to:

Hypertension, Heart failure, High blood pressure, Irregular heartbeats, Chronic heart failure, Coronary heart disease, Sexual dysfunction, Deterioration of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).     

           Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is of three types. They are:

1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

2. Central sleep apnea (CSA)

3. Mixed sleep apnea (MSA)

These types are different in their causes and treatments but one thing is consistent to all three; a part or more of the respiratory system restricts the volume of air reaching the lungs.

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

         This type is the most recurrent. It is a physical disorder. These are the common features of individuals with this type of sleep apnea;

Tonsils, large tongue,  small jawline, more weight, a narrow air passage in the trachea.

 The causes of this type of Obstructive sleep apnea has been mentioned as part of the general causes of sleep disorder. However, it could be aggravated by through the intake of alcohol, sleeping pills or tranquilizers.

2. Central Sleep Apnea :

      In contrast to the first, this type is uncommon. This occurs when the muscles of the trachea do not relax to a certain degree and the air passage is big enough to accommodate air. Also, the diaphragm and the chest muscles malfunction for only a while, this decreases the level of oxygen in the blood. This reduced oxygen influences regular metabolism. The brain also does not receive enough oxygen. As a result, the individual experiences memory loss, slow reflexes, lack of concentration and difficulties in learning.

3. Mixed Sleep Apnea

       This occurs in uncommon cases. This manifests when an individual suffers from Obstructive sleep apnea and Central sleep apnea at the same time. The two forms of disorder work interlacing each other. The individual could suffer the effects of the two disorders at once or one at a time. It is quite impossible to predict the psychological and pathological effects of this disorder because there are many factors involved.

Treating sleep apnea

      There are lots of treatments for sleep disorder depending on the extent of its effects on the individual. The treatment can be carried out, under normal circumstances, using therapies and surgeries. Treating sleep apnea could sometimes require the knowledge of sterling orthodontics. The treatment comprises:

A. THERAPIES

Different forms of therapies can be used:

1. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

               This form of therapy is used if the individual suffers from moderate to severe sleep apnea. A machine supplies oxygen through a mask that is positioned over the nose of the individual while sleeping. Greater air pressure is produced than is available in the environment, this pressure is useful in keeping the air passages open.

2. Adjustable Airway Pressure Devices

                This therapy involves the adjustment of the air pressure and the level of oxygen while the individual is sleeping. The way the device works is identical to the device used for CPAP therapy. The difference is that it is an improved form and it allows bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP). It increases air pressure in the process of inhaling and decreases it in the process of exhaling.

3. Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV)

           This is an airflow device and it functions by learning and comprehending the regular pattern of breathing and then, keeping the information in a built-in computer. In the process of sleeping, the machine controls the air pressure to regulate the breathing pattern. Also, it hinders pauses while breathing. It has been discovered to be more effective in treating individuals than CPAP.

4. Oral Appliances

          The individual is required to wear an oral appliance that helps to keep the throat open. These appliances are less complicated. Some of them work by drawing the jaw forward. This can help to reduce snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea sometimes.

B. SURGERY

             The major aim of surgery in the treatment of sleep apnea is the removal of surplus tissues from the nose or the throat, which are responsible for blocking the air passage. The surgical forms are:

1. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

             This surgery involves the removal of excess tissues from the top of the throat and the end of the mouth. The adenoids and tonsils are sometimes removed as well. This form of surgery helps to stop snoring, but it has been discovered to be less effective in the treatment of sleep apnea because there are some tissues still in the trachea that could continue to block the passage of air. It requires the use of general anesthesia and is commonly performed in the hospital.

2. Maxillomandibular Advancement

             This procedure includes the forward movement of the jaw from other facial bones. The effect is that the space at the back of the tongue and the soft palate is increased. This form of surgery would be done effectively with the service of an orthodontist as well as other surgical procedures. This procedure is one of the services rendered in sterling orthodontics.

3. Tracheostomy

         This procedure is a very critical one. For this reason, it is advised only after other treatments do not work and the form sleep apnea the individual suffers from is life-threatening. The procedure involves creating an opening in the neck of the individual and inserting a tube made of metal or plastic in the trachea. During daytime, the opening is covered while at night, it is left open to let air into the lungs. The tube circumvents the air passage that has been blocked. 

Published by Rose bella