For People with Sleep Apnea a Diagnosis May Be Life-Saving
Sleep apnea, a seemingly innocent and poorly understood condition, may actually kill silently. It is quite common to joke about a person who snores, but neither the person suffering nor the people around them understand the risks of this presumably simple problem. In fact, no one seems to consider that this problem may be life-threatening. For many people, it is the reason for their poor performance in day-to-day activities.
Many people were surprised to hear when professional football player Ryan Jensen admitted that he suffers from sleep apnea (1), and its diagnosis has since helped him regain his athletic performance. We tend to think that if a person is active in sports, they shouldn’t have any kind of health problems. But professional sports are different, and each one has its own associated risks. When a well-known personality like Ryan, however, publicly accepts that they have a health problem, it helps to raise awareness about neglected health conditions like sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is actually quite a common condition, and in the medical world, it is known as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. This means that the individual is unable to breath while sleeping, or the breathing becomes obstructed. This can be due to several reasons: sleep apnea can occur due to the age of the individual or if they are suffering from another illness. This condition has its own set of risks, and certain individuals are at an increased risk of developing it, such as those who are obese; those who smoke; those who are above the age of 40; alcoholics; menopausal women; and those who suffer from nasal congestion. Diagnosis is very important, and the doctor would diagnose this condition as well as its severity based on the medical history of the individual and with the help of certain other diagnostic tools. The doctor would also ask certain questions about the frequency of snoring and how many times during the night the individual wakes up. If this becomes serious, the individual may wake up with a choking feeling, which can occur multiple times in the night. Two of the common tests which are part of the diagnosis process are polysomnography and at-home testing with the help of portable monitors. Most of the time, an individual usually prefers to go in for the home testing option, but the superior of these two tests is the polysomnography, since it can provide the doctor with in-depth information about this condition and how serious it is in the individual. Sleep apnea has multiple treatment options, but it all depends on how severe the condition is along with the possible risks associated with each method. If the condition is mild, the doctor can start by suggesting that the individual change their sleeping posture, stop using decongestants before going to bed, or that they avoid alcohol and smoking prior to sleep. One should also look to carry out a daily exercise routine along with reducing their overall body weight and maintaining it at an optimal level.
The doctor can also prescribe oral appliances that are easy to use and, most of the time, are the preferred method of preventing snoring as well as helping to treat this condition. These are generally custom-made based on the individual’s needs, and they help to increase the size of the upper airway as well as reduce the collapsibility. PAP, also known as positive airway pressure, is the most effective way to treat those with mild to severe cases of sleep apnea. PAP comes in multiple types, but the commonly used ones are the CPAP and the BPAP. A specialist can decide which one would offer the best results. Lastly, the doctor can also recommend the patient go through the surgical route if that turns out to be the only option. This should be pursued only if the condition becomes very severe or fatal.