What is sleep apnea? It is defined as a sleep disorder that can be potentially life-threatening. Sufferers of sleep apnea will occasionally stop breathing during sleep and, as a result, tend to jolt awake. This disorder can contribute to the development of additional serious disorders such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and more. Sleep apnea is mainly caused by obesity, but it may also develop for a multitude of other reasons, such as advanced age, being male, and being an alcoholic or smoker. The rise in obesity has contributed greatly to the increase of patients who suffer from this disorder. Therefore, the need for sleep apnea clinics has similarly risen as well.
In order to treat sleep apnea, your doctor must first know what is causing it. At a sleep apnea clinic, patients can be diagnosed by a sleep specialist. This specialist will conduct an overnight sleep study in a sleep-specific laboratory. The patient is monitored by a doctor who records his or her vitals and notes any abnormalities in his or her sleep pattern. This study is known as a polysomnogram (PSG). Another diagnostic method for sleep apnea is the home sleep test. Although it is not as reliable, it is performed in the patient’s home without the presence of a doctor. Rather than monitoring every comprehensive aspect of the patient’s sleep, this sleep test focuses on symptoms that are more basic, such as snoring and disrupted sleep.
Once diagnosed at a sleep apnea clinic, the patient will be treated with one or more of the following methods. The conservative method, which is usually utilized in minor cases, applies minor lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes may involve anything from treating allergies to sleeping in a new position to losing weight. Most patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea are also greatly advised to avoid the use of most sleeping medications, alcohol, and tobacco.
In more serious cases, a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine will be employed to pressurize and depressurize the airways. This method forces the lungs to take in and expel air, which effectively manages sleep apnea by keeping the airways open. However, it is not a cure and the machine can be awkward for some patients to wear. Nevertheless, CPAP machines do help to prevent other serious health problems from taking hold and improve the patient’s sleep in almost every case.