When it comes to a good night’s sleep, your sleep quality is just as essential as your quantity of sleep. If you have sleep apnea, your lack of vital sleep can negatively impact the quality of your day-to-day life.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This is actually the most common version of sleep apnea. This sleep disorder affects the soft oral tissues in the mouth and throat that opens and relaxes while you sleep. When the relaxed muscles block your airway, it keeps vital oxygen from getting to your lungs. When that happens, your body feels a lowered level of blood oxygen, making you wake up gasping or choking to breathe. If this goes on throughout the night, you wake up exhausted the next morning.
OSA symptoms include repeatedly feeling tired the next day, nodding off when you’re not being stimulated mentally, and snoring so loud that your family can hear you sawing those logs all the way from another room! Risk factors for winding up with OSA include carrying excessive weight (obesity), having a naturally narrow throat, and even adenoids or tonsils that are abnormally enlarged.
OSA is typically broken down into three levels: mild, moderate, and severe. This refers to the average number of times in an hour that you experience an interruption in breathing while sleeping. This type of sleep apnea is so common here that almost 22 million Americans experience sleep apnea, with 80% of them being moderate to severe.
CPAP Therapy: For most people with OSA, this simple treatment makes the biggest difference in sleep quantity and quality. You get a continual flow of air from your CPAP machine through your mask to keep the airway open so you can breathe normally and easily.
Surgical Treatment: One of these may be an option for severe cases and when CPAP therapy or an oral appliance has failed. Surgery works when someone has a narrow throat, enlarged tonsils or adenoids. These are some of the surgeries that can correct physical problems causing obstructive sleep apnea:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (or UPPP)
- A tonsillectomy
- Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA)
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
Central Sleep Apnea
This version of sleep apnea happens when a medical condition impacts the brain, so it fails to send signals to those muscles that control your breathing function, leading to respiratory distress and impaired neurological function. Symptoms of CSA can include:
- Constant pauses in breathing while you sleep
- Shortness of breath while lying down
- Chest pain while you sleep
- Daytime mental fog and mood swings
Treating CSA may involve using traditional CPAP or BIPAP therapy (or bilevel positive airway pressure), a kind of ventilator where the machine pushes air into your lungs, helping them to expand. If none of these measures work for your CSA symptoms, medication can be prescribed to stimulate your breathing.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Did you know that the most recent form of sleep apnea was diagnosed in 2006? Complex (or Mixed) Sleep Apnea was diagnosed when people with OSA didn’t find relief from CPAP therapy because they had both OSA and CSA simultaneously. It is often referred to as CompSA so it isn’t confused with Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) alone. Treatments are still being developed, but consistently using a CPAP machine at low-pressure levels can provide some relief while not stressing out your system, which could inadvertently set off CSA.
Using a CPAP or BIPAP machine (depending on which one best addresses your symptoms) can often solve the problem. Another helpful machine is adaptive servo-ventilation therapy (ASV), which also uses a positive airway pressure machine. It scans your breathing for any changes or sudden pauses and is set to adjust itself in a particular pressurized range provided by your doctor based on your unique needs.
Schedule a Sleep Study
If you struggle with poor sleep quality and quantity, you may benefit from sleep apnea therapy. You can reach out to our team for more information or request a sleep study by giving us a call today. Complex Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea both respond well to proper treatment!