Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects your health in different ways. At the very least, the disruption to your sleep can leave you exhausted and sleepy the next day. You can have this condition and not be aware of it. If you suspect you might have sleep apnea because you wake up with headaches, are always sleepy, or you are overweight, then you should talk to your doctor. You may be refered to a sleep apnea doctor for testing and treatment. Here is a look at how you might be treated.
A Sleep Study Test Helps Diagnose Your Condition
Sleep apnea is diagnosed with a sleep study test. You'll have to spend the night in the hospital or sleep clinic for this so you can be monitored while you sleep. You may find it difficult to sleep in a strange setting, but as long as you eventually fall into a deep sleep, the machines you are connected to can provide your doctor with a reading that shows how your body acts when asleep.
Some aspects that are monitored include your heart rate, respiratory rate, chest movement, and oxygen level. The results of this test show the doctor how seriously your apnea affects your body. For instance, your heart rate may change when you have apnea spells and your oxygen level may drop. Also, the test shows the doctor what type of apnea you have.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common, your chest will make movements as you struggle to breathe, but you may not move air which causes your oxygen level to drop. If your apnea has a neurological cause, your chest may not register movement. Knowing the type of apnea you have is important to choosing the best treatment.
CPAP May Be The Treatment Of Choice
Once you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, CPAP may be recommended as a treatment. This is a device that you wear when you sleep at night. You wear a mask on your nose so air can be delivered to your airway. The air creates pressure that holds your airway open and relieves the obstruction. This eliminates periods of low oxygenation throughout the night so the health consequences of your apnea are reduced. CPAP is a treatment and not a cure.
Your sleep apnea doctor may also recommend that you lose weight or possibly have surgery to have a lasting cure. If you can't tolerate the CPAP machine, the doctor may suggest wearing an oral device that holds your airway open while you sleep. In the case of neurological, or central sleep apnea, your doctor may also need to treat the underlying medical condition that causes you to stop breathing periodically as you sleep.