If you’ve been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be feeling overwhelmed. The good news is that you’re certainly not alone. Well over one billion adults worldwide suffer from sleep apnea. This article covers the basics of sleep apnea (causes and symptoms), and the top three sleep apnea devices.
Sleep Apnea Causes and Symptoms
As a reminder, sleep apnea is a medical condition that leads to regular breathing interruptions. If left untreated, sleep apnea often leads to serious consequences for your health, such as: diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and more.
The most common form of sleep apnea is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. Those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea have blockages in their upper airway while sleeping. As a result of this blockage, muscles in the diaphragm and chest must work harder.
The extra effort typically manages to open the airway and bring air into the lungs, although these breaths are shallow. However, sometimes the muscles fail to open up the airway and breathing stops altogether. Breathing resumes with a violent disruption, usually in the form of a snort, gasp, or body jerk.
The universal symptom of sleep apnea is fatigue. Unfortunately, fatigue is connected to countless other sleep disorders and health conditions. Therefore without professional medical attention, you’ll know that you’re not sleeping well but you won’t know why.
Many sleep apnea sufferers become aware of the issue when a partner or roommate hears their breathing patterns at night. This is because nearly all of the signature symptoms of sleep apnea are audible while you’re unconscious. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth and/or sore throat
- Moodiness, forgetfulness
- Nighttime restlessness
- High blood pressure
- Waking up often to use the bathroom
Complications of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In addition to the immediate side effects of sleep apnea, the disorder is also connected to a range of other long-term disorders.These complications can affect nearly any part of the body.
The daytime fatigue and sleepiness can incur serious complications, such as a higher risk of traffic accidents, worsening of existing mental health issues, and more.
The most dangerous complication of sleep apnea are those related to heart health. Sleep apnea is strongly correlated to heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, stroke, and high blood pressure. Considering heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, the importance of looking after your heart health cannot be overstated.
Additional health concerns connected to sleep apnea include: excess weight, glaucoma, dry eye, difficult surgery recovery, pregnancy complications (e.g. gestational diabetes), Alzheimer’s and type two diabetes.
If the side effects of sleep apnea didn’t make it clear that sleep apnea is a serious matter, these additional health complications make it obvious. If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, seek treatment to protect your health today and in the future.
The Best Sleep Apnea Devices
The negative effects of sleep apnea are serious, but fortunately modern medicine has developed a wide range of effective treatment options. Read below for the top sleep apnea devices. Always consult your doctor about the best treatment options for you.
- CPAP Machine
CPAP machines are considered the benchmark of sleep apnea treatment. CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” A CPAP machine keeps the airway open throughout the night by creating consistent pressure during inhalation and exhalation.
Image source: NewJerseySleepApneaSolutions.com
CPAP machines consist of a mask that fits over your nose and/or mouth connected to an air blower. The air blower pushes a stream of air with constant pressure through your nose and/or mouth. The constant pressure is essential, as it prevents the upper airway from relaxing too much and closing up.
- Chin Strap
Sleep apnea sufferers frequently use chin straps to alleviate their symptoms. Made to adjust, chin straps securely but gently keep your mouth closed during sleep. Top quality chin straps utilize neoprene fabric and adjustable head straps to provide a comfortable, snug fit.
Image source: Amazon.com
Chin straps are most commonly used in combination with CPAP machines. Machines designed to cover the nose allow people to (unconsciously) sleep with their mouth open during sleep. Mouth breathing can reduce sleep quality. More importantly, mouth breathing ruins the pressure that the CPAP machine is designed to provide.
Chin straps are celebrated for their affordability and their non-invasiveness. Chin straps can also help reduce snoring, improve sleep quality, and are easy to clean. As an added bonus for your partner: chin straps don’t bother your partner.
- BiPAP Machine
A cousin of the CPAP machine, a BiPap machine stands for “bilevel positive airway pressure.” Although both the CPAP and BiPap are ventilators (devices designed to help with breathing), they provide different types of assistance. A BiPap machine delivers higher levels of air pressure during inhalation than exhalation (unlike the constant pressure of a CPAP).
Image source: Cpap.com
BiPap machines are preferred for complex sleep apnea, low blood oxygen, and for patients who struggle to tolerate a CPAP machine