Obstructive sleep apnea is one of two types of sleep apnea. While central sleep apnea is a neurological disorder that causes the brain to stop sending signals to the lungs, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles of the throat relax and block the airway to the lungs. It is a serious condition that is treatable.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
When we sleep, our bodies regulate breathing unconsciously. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused when the central airway to the lungs becomes blocked. The soft tissue in the throat fails to move properly, blocking the airway and stopping breathing for a few moments at a time.
Often, the first signs of OSA are not reported by the patient, but by a significant other sharing the same bed who notices the stop-start breathing pattern. Unfortunately, the worse the OSA gets, patients may begin to notice symptoms such as:
- Daytime fatigue
- Restlessness at night
- Sudden awakenings with a choking sensation
- Dry mouth or sore throat
- Night sweats
- Trouble concentrating
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
The most well-known treatment for sleep apnea involves the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, machine. The CPAP has a mask that fits over the nose and mouth and is held in place with straps. It is connected by a tube to a motor that blows air into the throat and keeps muscles from closing improperly. This keeps the airways open and improves the quality of sleep.
Are There Alternatives To CPAP Machines?
There are alternatives to CPAP machines for patients who require or are seeking an alternative option. One is called a tongue retaining device, which is a splint that holds the tongue in place to keep the airway open during sleep.
The most widely used alternative is a custom oral appliance. This can quietly and gently open the airway and resolve sleep apnea issues for those with minor to moderate sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition. However, there are a number of ways to treat it and improve your quality of life. If you’re displaying symptoms of sleep apnea, contact Chesapeake Sleep Center today to schedule a consultation.
Chesapeake Sleep Center
7711 Quarterfield Road, Suite C-1
Glen Burnie, MD 21061