Sleep Apnea also spelt as Sleep Apnoea, is a sleeping disorder. It is characterized by pauses in breathing when the person is fast asleep. Each pause is referred to as “apnea” and can last for some seconds to several minutes. A person might be suffering from sleep apnea if he/she snores loudly or feels tired even after a proper night’s sleep.
When apnea occurs, the breathing is paused for quite some time. This leads to the build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. The stimulates the receptors in the brain which then signals the body to wake up to regain consciousness and start the breathing process again to bring up oxygen levels in the body. This process can jolt the person out of his sleep and can make the person lethargic even in the morning since he/she spends more time in light sleep rather than deep sleep. This can lead to day time sleepiness, slow reflexes and poor concentration while working. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain.
Three types of sleep apnea can affect a person. They are as follows:
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This is the more common of the other forms of sleep apnea. This occurs when due to some reason, the upper airway is partly or completely blocked. This makes the muscles responsible for breathing, that is diaphragm and chest muscles to work much more and consume more energy to open the obstructed airway and allow the proper passage of air. Breathing function is resumed generally with a loud jolt or gasp for breath. The condition can also reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs and cause irregular heart rhythms.
2. Central Sleep Apnea
This is the more severe version of sleep apnea but fortunately is very rare in people. Again in this form of sleep apnea, the breathing is disrupted but it’s not due to blocked airways. Its because the brain fails to signal the body to breathe. This type of sleep apnea can cause pauses for as long as 20 seconds to a minute. This is generally associated with severe medical illnesses.
3. Complex Sleep Apnea
This is a combination of both Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea. It’s also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
Sometimes the symptoms of central and obstructive sleep apneas may collide, hence making the diagnosis difficult. Otherwise, the general symptoms of both types of sleep apnea are as follows:
a) Loud and chronic snoring almost every night.
b) Choking, snorting, or gasping during sleep.
c) Pauses in breathing.
d) Waking up at night feeling short of breath.
e) Daytime sleepiness and fatigue, no matter how much time you spend in bed.
f) Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
g) Insomnia or nighttime awakenings
h) Going to the bathroom frequently during the night
i) Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
j) Uncharacteristic moodiness, irritability, or depression
k) Morning headaches
l) Restless or fitful sleep
Causes for obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea are different hence they will be discussed separately.
1. For Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This happens when the muscles in the throat relax. These are the muscles that are responsible for supporting the tongue, tonsils, soft palate and uvula. When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and you can’t get an adequate breath in. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood.
Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.
2. For Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is a less common form of sleep apnea that occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. This means you make no effort to breathe for a short period. You may awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep.
There are two ways of diagnosis of this problem. They are explained as follows:
During this test, you’re hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
2. Home Sleep Tests
In some cases, your doctor may provide you with simplified tests to be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. These tests usually involve measuring your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow and breathing patterns. If you have sleep apnea, the test results will show drops in your oxygen level during apneas and subsequent rises with awakenings.
If the results are abnormal, your doctor may be able to prescribe a therapy without further testing. Portable monitoring devices don’t detect all cases of sleep apnea, so your doctor may still recommend polysomnography even if your initial results are normal.
1. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
This machine splits open the person’s airway during sleep through pressurized air. The person typically wears a plastic facial mask, which is connected by a flexible tube to a small bedside CPAP machine.
Even though CPAP is effective in reducing apneas and less expensive than other treatments, some people find it extremely uncomfortable. Patients complain of feeling trapped, having chest discomfort, and skin or nose irritation. Other side effects a patient may experience are dry mouth, dry nose, nosebleeds, sore lips and gums.
2. Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP)
These small, single-use devices are placed over each nostril before you go to sleep. The device is a valve that allows air to move freely in, but when you exhale, air must go through small holes in the valve. This increases pressure in the airway and keeps it open. The device may help reduce snoring and daytime sleepiness in people with mild obstructive sleep apnea. And it may be an option for some who can’t tolerate CPAP.
3. Oral Appliances
General dentists can fabricate an oral appliance. The oral appliance, called a mandibular advancement splint, is a custom-made mouthpiece that shifts the lower jaw forward and opens the bite slightly, which opens up the airway. Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is usually successful in patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Home Remedies For Sleep Apnea
We have some of the best home remedies for sleep apnea for you right here. Use and try these methods for impressive results.
Peppermint possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe the swelling of the membranes present in the linings of the nostrils and throat, which in turn aids smooth and easy breathing. These peppermint home remedies for sleep apnea is especially effective for curing temporary snoring caused by allergy, cold or dry air.
2. Olive Oil
The benefits and functions of olive oil for the body and overall health need no new emphasis, and it is also one of the best natural snoring treatments which help to soothe the inflamed tissues of the respiratory passages. It helps reduce swelling and soreness and clear the nasal passage for the easy flow of air. It is one of the best home remedies for sleep apnea.
It works as an expectorant and decongestant that works as good as over-the-counter medicines. It is one of the time-tested sleep apnea cures that help to open up blocked nasal passages. It is a great home remedy for sleep apnea.
Turmeric or holy powder is a well-known Indian Spice that has powerful antiseptic and antibiotic properties. It is also one of the proven sleep apnea home remedies for sleep apnea that treats inflammation of the nasal passage and reduces heavy snoring.
Nettle is one of the most time-tested herbal snoring remedies which helps treat snoring mainly caused by seasonal allergies which inflame the nasal passages. The antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties of nettle are useful for the treatment of temporary snoring.
So, what are you waiting for? Use these simple, natural and cost-effective methods to cure and treat sleep apnea completely. These home remedies for sleep apnea are easy to use, easier to find in the local market and easiest to use regularly in your daily routine. These home remedies for sleep apnea are completely safe and secure for your health. Use these home remedies for sleep apnea to get a good night’s sleep and wake up all fresh and happy every day.