Sleep apnea affects nearly 20 million Americans, yet you might not hear about it that often. There are a myriad of reasons that someone may develop sleep apnea. Certain conditions — such as obesity — can also exacerbate the symptoms. It?s possible for those suffering from it to stop breathing for short periods of time, hundreds of times throughout the night.
Regardless of why sleep apnea happens, it can have a profound effect on everyday life. People suffering from sleep apnea experience everything from fatigue to moodiness. It can affect the immune system?s ability to protect against common ailments, and it can also result in heart problems later on in life.
Luckily, there are a few potential solutions for sleep apnea. Let?s review a few.
CPAP machines (continuous positive airway pressure) is a form of therapy that is used to combat obstructive sleep apnea. These pressures help maintain steady air pressure into the lungs, ensuring that the individual does not stop breathing during the night. It is one of the most commonly prescribed solutions for this problem, and it is typically covered by insurance. Doctors typically recommend that people use their CPAP machines at least 70% of the time they are sleeping.
CPAP Machine Masks
The main issue people struggle with is adjusting to the sensation of the CPAP machine. Not surprisingly, it can be difficult to fall asleep when air is being gently forced through your nose and mouth, when this wasn?t previously the case. For this reason there are multiple options for delivering the necessary air. CPAP masks are fitted over the nose and mouth; these are ideal for people who may toss and turn more, since the mask moves with them. For individuals who may find the mask uncomfortable, then a nasal pillow may be a handy solution (it will not be ideal for individuals who change positions frequently during sleep, though).
BIPAP stands for Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, and it?s quite similar to CPAP. The difference is that they have multiple pressure settings; some individuals find it difficult to exhale against incoming air. BIPAP machines can lessen the sensation that people are being ?forced? to breathe out rather than experience it as a natural function. It can be especially useful for people with lung or cardiopulmonary disorders.
Sleep apnea is an unfortunate condition to experience, but luckily, treatments exist. For more extreme cases where CPAP and BIPAP machines aren’t successful or adequate, surgery also remains an option. A deviated septum, for example, can sometimes cause sleep apnea (as well as other nasal issues), and this can often be solved with a minor surgery to the nasal passages.