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Living With Sleep Apnea: Is There Help?

What is Sleep Apnea?

If you are living with sleep apnea, then finding help for the condition is essential to avoid life-threatening complications. Medical researchers are still trying to understand this sleep disorder that causes breathing problems. This condition might lead to you having shallow breathing or unusual spaces between breaths, and due to the frequent disruptions in normal breathing patterns, carbon dioxide levels in your bloodstream increase. As the carbon dioxide levels in your body increase, you wake quickly because of brain signals, and after taking a breath, you fall back asleep. Unfortunately, these constant sleep disruptions lead to physical and mental consequences.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

You probably have obstructive sleep apnea that is the most common type followed by complex or central forms. A frequent sign of obstructive sleep apnea is chronic snoring that disrupts the sleep of others, and in many cases, physicians discover that a patient didn’t know about their sleep apnea until a family member complained about the snoring. Millions of people in the United States have sleep apnea, and many are unaware that their constant fatigue is caused by breathing problems. Feeling sleepy the majority of the time leads to difficulties caused by inattentiveness, poor coordination and lack of control over emotions. Risk factors for developing sleep apnea include obesity, sinus problems or high blood pressure.

Finding Treatment for Sleep Apnea

After your physician diagnoses your sleep apnea by considering common symptoms and performing a study of breathing patterns and brain waves, it is time to find a treatment plan. There is a good chance that you will need to use more than one method to cope with symptoms. First, a physician will advise you to change behaviors such as drinking alcohol, taking sedatives or sleeping on your back to avoid relaxing the muscles in the throat. Next, you can order an air pressure breathing machine that helps to keep your airway open while sleeping. You must wear a plastic mask over your nose and mouth while sleeping to permit pressurized air to enter the throat and nasal passages.

Medications and Surgical Procedures

Some air pressure machines have additional features to humidify or cool air before it is breathed. If wearing a mask while sleeping is too difficult, then it is time to consider a surgical procedure to correct abnormalities in the nose or throat. You can have a deviated nasal septum repaired or have a tonsillectomy to remove obstructions that make breathing difficult. Additional procedures involve shrinking oral cavity tissues or moving the position of the jawbone. It is also possible to have dentist make a dental appliance to assist with opening the airway to permit better breathing while sleeping.

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