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Dealing With Sleep Apnea

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If you suffer from sleep apnea or know someone that suffers from sleep apnea, then you know just how uncomfortable the condition can be. However, it is an entirely treatable condition if diagnosed. Here's an explanation of exactly what sleep apnea is and how the various treatment procedures work:

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder involving multiple periods of interrupted breathing, resulting in a disrupted sleep pattern. This ultimately results in fatigue and drowsiness throughout the day since the body was unable to fully recuperate during sleep.

There are three classifications of sleep apnea: central, obstructive and mixed.

Central - by far the rarest of the three types, central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the respiratory system to function correctly. Even though the airway is entirely clear, your body is unable to breathe properly.

Obstructed - by far the most common, obstructed sleep apnea occurs when your respiratory system is willing and able to function, but is hindered by the presence of a blockage. This blockage can directly result in heavy snoring.

Mixed in mixed sleep apnea, a combination of the two factors results in disrupted sleep. There is both some sort of blockage preventing respiratory effort, and there is an associated physiological conditioning by the body that results in a diminished respiratory effort. After a long period of time with obstructed sleep apnea, an individual may develop central sleep apnea, which is then referred to as mixed sleep apnea.


Thankfully, there are many different ways of treating sleep apnea, ranging from temporary alleviation of symptoms to thorough surgical procedures meant to eradicate the disorder. 

CPAP - The most common way to treat sleep apnea is through continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a device that is used at night to prevent sleep apnea. The device is worn during sleep and functions as a mask that pushes air into the nostrils, which creates a pressurized environment. One of the major complaints with CPAP is that it is uncomfortable, since it is a bulky apparatus that must be worn every night. However, it is a relatively cheap and reliable way of eliminating sleep apnea.

Surgery - There are several different areas that are commonly operated on, including the nasal passage, the pharynges, and the base of the tongue. Your doctor will be able to tell you which option is best suited for your specific sleep apnea, since each surgery has a slightly different effect on the patient.

For more information about sleep apnea, speak to a professional such as William C. Gardner, DDS, PA.