Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder in which breathing abruptly stops and starts repeatedly. The main types of sleep apnea are central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome with obstructive sleep apnea being the most prevalent one suffered by many today.
During an episode of obstructive sleep apnea, the soft tissues in your throat, which include your soft palate and tongue, begin to relax. Once relaxation takes place within the muscles, the airway then becomes closed or narrowed, and breathing temporarily stops. This causes the oxygen levels in your blood to decrease which then sends a signal to the brain that you cannot breathe thus briefly waking the individual from sleep. This causes the individual to wake up and feel exhausted because the constant waking up prevents them from reaching deep sleep. A study on obstructive sleep apnea in 2017 from Saudi Arabia concluded that OSA affected an overall of 8.8% of Saudi citizens with a further breakdown of 12.8% being men and 5.1% being women. Taking it further to another study in 2019, that did a global estimate that nearly 1 billion adults suffered from obstructive sleep apnea.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes of stopped breathing during sleep (observed or informed)
- Awakening with gasping or choking
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
You can try small changes to prevent or lower the chance of suffering with this certain sleep condition by:
- Exercising regularly
- Avoid sleeping on your back
- Avoid sedatives or sleeping pills
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Quit/Decrease smoking
What is a CPAP Machine?
The main treatment of obstructive sleep apnea involves a type of therapy using a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This type of treatment is used to help individuals who suffer from airway interruptions during their sleep by inserting a constant airflow through their throat.
How does it help breathing?
Although it must be a reminder that CPAP machines are not a cure, they are usually used for treatment. They help breathe during sleep. The machine uses a mask and tube attached together that helps deliver a constant flow of air into the airway. As the air runs through, it increases enough pressure (a steady stream of air) to hold the tissue open to avoid your airway from collapsing.
This treatment helps to slow down the further complications obstructive sleep apnea brings that include further development of heart conditions (such as heart attacks/strokes) and high blood pressure.
Once diagnosed by your medical practitioner, further directions will be given as to what pressure your CPAP machine must be set (as that is part of the prescription). Although there must be a reminder that CPAP machines are used as a treatment, not a cure. Hence, you must continue to use the machine to maintain rest and prevent your airway blockage.
Where to find CPAP Machines?
CPAP machines come in different brands and models with additional accessories available. There are other models such as APAP which is Auto Continuous Positive Air Pressure, this machine offers various pressures to adjust to. Another model is BPAP which is Bi-level Positive Air Pressure, this changes levels of pressure in the mask for when you breathe in and a different pressure for when you breathe out. Part of the accessories to look into further are masks. Finding a suitable mask will be able to enhance the individual’s comfort during sleep.
You can find an array of selections on our page here.