“I was driving car early in the morning going to pickup my relatives at the airport . I don’t remember when I started dozing while driving my car”, said David, after he had a narrow escape in an accident met a couple of days before.
The reason of the accident is not so surprising in the present scenario of society and culture. According to David, he doesn’t get sleep properly in the night. The reason is that he keeps snoring whole night and get awake from the sleep too frequently.
After this incident, he visited the doctor and found that he had been suffering from ‘Sleep Apnea’ for last 6 months.
Now the point is, David is still alive to treat the ‘Sleep Apnea’ but not all are lucky to get this second chance in life.
So, better to get the knowledge as much as possible and prevent yourself from any of the upcoming evil symptoms.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Apnea means halt or lack of breathing and therefore, you may get difficulty in breathing during the sleep if you suffer from Sleep Apnea. It is a breathing disorder characterized by repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep, with consequent cessation of breathing.
Generally, all Sleep Apnea patients have a history of loud snoring.
To read final conclusion and best possible cure of Sleep Apnea click here
You will get several pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses in airflow can occur off and on during sleep, and cause you to wake up from the sound sleep. In this condition, even if you are trying to breathe , there may be little or no airflow into the lungs.
When a patient get lack of airflow in the lungs, lungs passes a biological signal to the mind and in order to complete the required airflow, mind push your body and make you partially awaken from sleep to signal the body that it needs to breathe.
During this process, the person generally produces annoying choking and gasping sounds.
Nowadays, it is a very common disorder that often people ignore it and leave it untreated. When left untreated, a person can even die if the condition gets worse.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are mainly three types of Sleep Apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Central Sleep Apnea
- Mixed Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
It is caused by mechanical failure of tissues and muscles inside the throat. In OSA, there is a complete or partial blockage of the airways during sleep. Throat muscles relax during the sleep, allowing the tongue and other tissues of the throat to fall back into the airways and block airflow.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is most frequent and approximately 80-90% cases belong to this category. In fact, Sleep Apnea is generally termed as Obstructive Sleep Apnea by default.
Central Sleep Apnea:
Unlike OSA, Central Sleep Apnea is a signal failure problem. It occurs when brain temporarily fails to signal the muscles responsible for controlling breathing. It is much less common than OSA. According to some report, approximately 15-20% cases are of Central Sleep Apnea out of total cases of Sleep Apnea.
Mixed Sleep Apnea:
It is a combination of both Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea. It is very less common and very unlikely to occur. However, it is much more dangerous than other two.
How To Measure Severity Level of Sleep Apnea?
Severity condition is medically measured by the term AHI (Apnea Hypopnea Index). AHI is determined by dividing the total number of apnea events by total numbers of hours of sleep.
When apnea events are less than 5 events/hour, then it is considered as normal and natural.
Based on AHI, severity of sleep apnea is divided into 4 categories:
- Mild Sleep Apnea: Apnea events between 5-15 events/hour
- Moderate: Apnea events between 16-30 events/hour
- Moderately Severe: Apnea events between 31-39 events/hour
- Severe: Apnea events over 40 events/hour
Causes of Sleep Apnea
- Male Gender
- Alcohol addiction
- Upper airways or facial abnormalities
- Family History
- Large Neck Circumference
Excessive weight or obesity is one of the main causes of Sleep Apnea. According to a scientific report, a person having BMI index greater than 30 is more likely to develop the symptoms of Sleep Apnea.
Sleep Apnea is seen troubling more male gender than female. A male person with obesity and having age more than 60 is most likely to diagnose with Sleep Apnea.
According to a study, between 40 -80 % of patients diagnosed with hypertension have Sleep Apnea. Moreover, 43% of patients with mild OSA and 69% of patients with severe OSA have hypertension.
Sometimes enlarged tonsils obstruct the airways specially in case of children, but it can also affect adults in some cases.
Large Neck Circumference:
A person having neck size greater than 16 inches should be very cautious about Sleep Apnea as it is also one of the major risk factors.
The muscles of a body get weak and loose with time and age. As a result, throat muscles lose definition and become more prone to collapse into the airways due to gravity during sleep.
If your family has a history of Sleep Apnea then there is a chance that you can develop it too.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Common symptoms during sleep:
- Snoring is one of the common symptoms during sleep. Snoring is usually loud and irritates your partner sleeping near you. Snoring may come and go through the night.
- Sudden or jerky body movements
- Choking or gasping sounds
- Breathing pauses observed by someone watching you sleep
- Frequent awakenings from sleep
- Restless tossing and turning whole night
Common symptoms while awake:
- Morning headache
- Even after sleeping many hours, the patient feels that he or she has not had enough sleep
- Sleepiness during the day
- Tiredness or fatigue through the day
- Personality changes, such as mood swings and difficulty getting along with others
- Poor memory or inability to concentrate in work
How To Treat Sleep Apnea?
Now the most important point is how to treat and cure Sleep Apnea? There are 5 methods to treat all kinds of apnea:
Using CPAP Machine:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a device commonly used to treat OSA by doctors. CPAP is a machine that works like a compressor to blow air into a mask that is worn snugly over the nose and/or mouth or in the nostrils during sleep.
In order to use CPAP, the patient must wear a sealed mask over the nose or, in some cases, over the nose and mouth during sleep. The mask is connected to a blower forcing air through the nasal passages.
The flow of air acts like a splint to keep the upper airway from collapsing. This helps prevent obstruction and the apnea from occurring.
The air pressure of the machine can be adjusted to a setting that best controls the apnea. CPAP, used properly, produces rhythmic breathing, resulting in the patient feeling surprisingly better and being able to breathe more efficiently.
The major benefits using CPAP machines are:
- CPAP is the most effective way to treat sleep apnea and recommended by almost all doctors.
- It starts showing effects or results immediately.
- It can treat and give sound sleep to patients with severe Sleep Apnea.
However, despite of its effectiveness, there are drawbacks of using this CPAP devices you must know before use:
- Some people complain and feel difficulty using CPAP machine as it is a heavy set and using mask all over night make patient discomfort in sleeping.
- Many people discontinue using CPAP because they feel inconvenient of being connected to the CPAP machine, get nasal-related complaints and are intolerant of the mask.
- There are some common side effects including, nasal stuffiness, nasal skin irritation and discomfort with pressure.
- The CPAP machine produces some noise which may disturb patient’s sleep and people sleeping near the patient.
- High maintenance of the machine is required in regular manner such as air pressure, air leaks, heat checks etc.
- Although it’s quite effective, it does not cure the disorder completely. If you discontinue using your CPAP device, your sleep apnea may return.
- It may affect your night life.
- One of the biggest drawbacks is its price, which is not low, the average cost of a CPAP machine is $ 1000 USD and it ranges from $ 800 USD – $ 4000 USD depending upon its quality and brand. Insurance is also available with good brands.
- You must use CPAP machine under the guidance of an expert or doctors that means an assistant is always needed to take care.
Another similar device to CPAP is Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure(BiPAP). Unlike in CPAP machine, where there is only one constant pressure setting, BiPAP machine has two different pressure setting one for inhalation and another for exhale.
Some patient using CPAP feels difficulty to exhale against the constant incoming pressure and that is why BiPAP comes with two different settings. In BiPAP machine, pressure is reduced automatically during exhalation making the patient comfortable to exhale.
Generally, the patient who does not get enough benefits from CPAP are recommended to use BiPAP. However,it completely depends upon the patient severity and other health factors too.
One must make a selection between these two only after recommendation and as per the suggestions of a good doctor.
The mouthpiece is an oral device that is worn in the mouth during sleep in such a way that airway remain open the whole night. Most oral devices work by either bringing the jaw forward or keeping the tongue from blocking the throat. Mouthpieces are most likely to help a person who has not very severe Sleep Apnea.
Mouthpiece moulds itself to the inside of your mouth, ensuring a comfort fit that’s the right for you.
The Mouthpieces are being quite popular because of the following benefits:
- Mouthpieces are of very small size and light weight generally made up of silicon, which fits easily inside the mouth.
- As it does not produce any noise, people sleeping nearby patient do not get disturbed.
- Almost no maintenance is required as it is robust.
- It doesn’t affect your night life.
- One of the best merit of mouthpieces is that its price is very low as compared to the CPAP machine.You can get mouthpiece starting from $ 30 USD to $ 150 USD.
- It can be used stop general snoring that means, a person who doesn’t have Sleep Apnea can also use this just to stop snoring only.
- Doctor or expert advice is not mandatory(although , it is recommended) to use mouthpiece. By just following the device manual and proper instructions, anyone can start using mouthpiece very easily. No special assistant is required to take care all.
There are only a few drawbacks of Mouthpiece:
- You may feel uncomfortable when you start using in the beginning. Keeping mouthpiece inside mouth can make patient annoying and discomfort.
At the first day of using mouthpiece, a patient may feel lots of discomfort and may throw it out of mouth.But once habituated, it hardly makes patient discomfort.According to few patients, it takes approximately one week to adjust and to get habituated with mouthpiece.
- It may be not too much effective in severe Sleep Apnea.
- It also cannot cure the patients, but to treat and manage only.
If the condition is so severe that neither CPAP machine nor Mouthpiece give you relief, then surgery is the last option recommended by the doctors. When the tonsils or adenoids are causing the throat to be blocked, a tonsillectomy may be recommended. Surgery may also be helpful for patients with jaw problems.
During surgery, either tissue from the back of the throat is removed or a nerve stimulator is implanted in order to move the tongue forward during the sleep.
As this is surgery, there is always some risk associated with it. Apart from that, patient needs to undergo with different types of test and medical procedures before surgery.
If the surgery is successful, then too, there is no guarantee how long it remains effective. Although it is quite effective, but, after surgery, you may develop apnea and snoring again after some time or after a few years and that is why its success rate is nearly 40%.
The surgery cost is very expensive for common people. The surgery can cost you anywhere between $ 4000 USD and upto $ 12000 USD.
So, it is very important for you to understand all before undergoing surgery. However, surgery is very rarely required as most of the patient get treated well using CPAP machine and Mouthpiece.
We suggest you to avoid surgery as much as possible.
This method consists of various breathing exercises or pranayama which is a part of yoga.
Breathing exercises can be very effective if practiced regularly and properly. You will not see an immediate effect of exercise, in fact, it needs patience and you will have to maintain continuity as well. But yes, in long run if practiced properly, it can cure your problem of snoring or Sleep Apnea too.
Amongst all the breathing exercises, the most effective with minimum effort breathing exercises you should do if you have snoring problem are:
Humming Bee Exercise
This exercise is also called Bhramari pranayama. As the name suggests, you will have to produce a humming noise like a bee.
Step 1: At first, sit down making your body and mind completely in relax mode either in the floor/yoga mat or chair.
Step 2: Now close your both eyes completely, take a deep breath and keep aside all the tension and worries.
Step 3: Close your both ears with the help of thumb fingers, you can use any other finger in place of thumb but traditionally thumb is used. It would better if you use thumb for closing the ears.
Step 4: Inhale the air deeply and just after that start making humming noise like ‘M…M….MMMM…UUU…U..MMM..UUUU…MMMM’ in one breath along with exhaling all the air slowly. While chanting the sound you will feel a vibration in entire head and throat, feel that vibration. Try to make the sound as long as possible.
Repeat the step few more 5-10 times and you are done.That’s it.
Here is a video showing you how to do humming bee breathing exercise.
The humming bee exercise creates vibration inside your throat , mind and complete head. As a result, blood flow inside nerves gets improved and good amount of blood reaches to all parts of the brain and throat.
Vibration produced inside the throat can clear the blockage of airways and along with that your voice sound quality and breathing gets improved.
This exercise is also beneficial in too many threatening diseases like, brain tumor, migraine , headache, etc. It improves your memory power too. It is helpful in insomnia, anxiety, improving hearing power and generates a soothing effect to the whole body and nervous system.
Doing 5-8 times in one session are more than enough.
When you make humming noise make sure that you are not making very very loud noise as it may create extra unnecessary pressure to the head. So just be normal, make soft medium pitch soothing noise.
Also, do not exercise very fast or in hurry. Keep it very calm and normal.
As you know, excess of everything is harmful. Taking all the medicine in a single day will make your condition worse. Therefore, it is generally recommended by the doctors to take a pill every day.
Likewise, do not practice this exercise more than 10-16 times in a single day.
If you are doing in morning and evening, two sessions then do 5-8 times in each session.
This is also called Anulom Vilom Pranayama. In this, you have to inhale and exhale through one side of the nose at a time.
Step 1: Sit down in relax mode. Make sure that the you get fresh air while doing this exercise. If you are doing this in a room, keep your window open so that some fresh air enters through it.
Step 2: Now, close the left side hole of the nose with the help of anyone finger of your hand and take a deep breath from the right side hole slowly.
Step 3: After inhaling from right side of nose, close it with one of your fingers and open the left side of nose which was closed earlier.
Step 4: Now, exhale all the air slowly through the left side of nose and empty the lungs completely.
Step 5: Now the side from which you exhaled i.e from left side, inhale again and exhale from right side. Repeat the process again from step 2.
Just checkout the video below to learn these steps of Nostril Breathing.
You can practice this exercise for 8-20 minutes in one session. Nostril breathing clear the nose and throat airways, improves breathing capability, purify the lungs and blood as well.
It also improves several serious health condition such as heart condition, cure asthma & breathing problems, cure nasal & ear related problems, regulate blood pressure and many more.
Make sure your mouth remains close and do not breath through the mouth during exercise. Keep slow speed and breath gently , do not breath fast or in sudden jerk. This exercise can be done starting from 5 minutes up to 25 minutes in one session.
It would better if you do these two exercises in the morning before breakfast. If you want, you may do this exercise sitting in your office chair too.
You may notice its effect slowly in a month or two if done regularly in a proper way.
It is a long process and require a lot of patience, but this is the only way to cure Sleep Apnea naturally. As this exercise is very simple, you don’t need any expert professional all the time. You just need to learn the proper way of doing exercise once and you can yourself, follow the same procedure everyday.
There are many other breathing exercises, but these two exercises are too much effective in Sleep Apnea and gives maximum output in minimum input and consumes very less time of your day.
Prevention, Lifestyles & Other Cure
All the above mentioned treatments are beneficial and more effective only when your lifestyle is healthy. As far as lifestyle is concerned, there are some important points any patient should take care:
Overweight people are more likely to have snoring and ultimately Sleep Apnea. Fatty tissues sometimes obstruct the airway path of the throat. Try to reduce the weight by exercise, gym and taking proper healthy diet.
Many doctors confirm that excessive consumption of alcohol also enhances the severity to some extent.
Smoking can cause inflammation as it irritates lungs and throat. Ultimately, it can also block the airways. Quit smoking as it badly affects lungs and throat.
Diet & Routine:
Make a healthy diet consist of lots of fruits and vegetables. Avoid consumption of fatty items. Go to bed early in the night and wake up early.
Exercise & Gym:
Take out sometime for jogging, exercise and Gym. Do mentioned breathing exercise everyday.
Sleep Apnea is a common problem, but it can be dangerous if left untreated. But don’t overthink or stress yourself thinking and focussing on it.
Be calm, relax, follow your daily routine normally and be happy.
It can go away if you make your lifestyle healthy.
And please don’t ignore breathing exercises. Either you use mouthpiece or CPAP, do breathing exercises regularly along with that.
Reduce excess weight and do exercises daily.
In order to treat it, you can use CPAP machine, but before going to heavy machines like CPAP, it would better try the oral device like mouthpiece.
At first, you should try a mouthpiece plus breathing exercise for 20-30 days. More likely, you will get relief by the mouthpiece.
Even after using mouthpiece for a month, if you don’t find any improvement in the condition, then CPAP should be the next choice.You must visit the doctor for recommendations.
If very rarely, CPAP also fails, then surgery is the last option left.
Try to get rid of snoring and Sleep Apnea with the help of mouthpiece, breathing exercises and with healthy diet only. Dependency on machines like CPAP and BiPAP is not considered as a very good option.
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