Sleep Apnea Essay

1307 words - 6 pages

Sleep Apnea is a chronic sleep disorder causing shallow, infrequent or pauses in breathing. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans and is as common as type two diabetes. Common in both children and adults, there are three main types of sleep apnea. The first is central apnea, followed by the most common form, obstructive apnea and finally the combination of both, mixed/ complex apnea. Although these three types of apnea have differing symptoms and treatments, they all share negative effects on the body and sleep cycles. The quality of sleep is usually lower than normal, as the pauses in breathing can often bring apnea patients from a ...view middle of the document...

This alteration of a CPAP is the combined use with a machine that will supply compressed air to the airway at a constant pressure. While CPAP is used to treat obstructive apnea by supplying a consistent optimal pressure to stabilize the airway, CPAP is used in central apnea on two different settings of pressure. The first setting is for inhalation, as the patient may need some assistance in the respiratory controls, and the second setting is for exhalation. However, to acquire treatment, patients must first undergo a sleep study to ensure the right diagnosis. Symptoms of sleep apnea such as snoring, morning headaches and persistent daytime sleepiness are alone not enough to confirm the disorder. Sleep studies are required for all apnea patients, as a common symptom is snoring may be misconceived as the more serious disorder.
Obstructive apnea is the most common form of apnea and occurs in those with weak muscle tone and soft tissue. While normal sleepers do have a loss of muscle tension when sleeping, patients with obstructive apnea have a greater loss of muscle tone, until the airways are partially or fully blocked. These factors are seen in patients who smoke, are higher in body weight, diabetes and are over the age of 40. Snoring is a common association with this type of apnea, as the movement of air and sound can be a sign of difficulty breathing. Additionally some indicators for obstructive apnea are enlarged tonsils and tongues, large neck circumferences, morning headaches, and memory difficulties. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, some researchers believe that obstructive sleep apnea could potentially be the causation of improper or inadequate signaling from the brain, causing the limpness of the tongue and throat muscles.
Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are fairly simple and noninvasive. The most basic change is that of the patient’s lifestyle. By avoiding alcohol, muscle relaxants or by losing weight, muscles will be less likely to obstruct airways while sleeping. Another noninvasive change is to the position in which sleeping occurs. By sleeping on ones side, or tilting the body up by a minimum of 30 degrees, it is less likely for gravity to aid in the obstruction. Although these changes can be simply done, they depend on small changes in habit instead of the body. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is considered more invasive, but additionally more effective as treatment. CPAP is only available for patients with obstructive sleep apnea because in order for the machine to work properly, the sleeper must initiate the breaths. The most severe measures taken to treat obstructive apnea are surgical procedures removing tissue to widen the airway.
Complex/ mixed apnea can occur when patients with obstructive apnea develop episodes of central apnea over a period of time. According to researchers at Mayo Clinic (2006), patients with complex sleep apnea are more difficult to diagnose, as patients will appear...

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