What Causes Severe Sleep Apnea and How Is It Treated

What Causes Severe Sleep Apnea and How Is It Treated 1

Sleep apnea symptoms such as breathing cessation are an indication of obstructive sleep apnea, OSA. It causes repeated pauses in breathing while you are asleep. 

The major cause is when the muscles in the upper respiratory tract relax while asleep. This causes the restriction of the smooth flow of air into and out of your lungs. You could be breathless for over 10 minutes or more. Your breathing is only restored when your reflex system restarts it automatically. Breathing through  CPAP masks is one of the most potent ways to treat sleep apnea. CPAP means continuous positive airway pressure. 

According to the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI):

  • Mild cases take between 5-15 episodes in one hour
  • Moderate  cases are between 15 to 30 episodes per hour
  • Above 30 is considered a severe case.

Severe sleep apnea signs and symptoms

Sufferers may not be able to detect the signs and symptoms because episodes usually occur while they are asleep. Sleep apnea symptoms are usually easily noted by sleep partners such as spouses. Here, we categorize the various kind of symptoms based on how to notice them:

Signs and symptoms that can be detected by a sleep partner.

  • Heavy snoring
  • Short episodes of pause in breathing
  • Shallow breathing

Signs and symptoms that both partner and sufferer can detect:

  • Waking up abruptly, followed by gasping and chocking
  • Low sexual desire
  • Mood swings
  • Abnormally heavy nighttime sweating

Symptoms that only you might notice:

  • Mouth dryness or sore throat after waking up
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or retain memory
  • Feeling regularly sleepy in the daytime
  • Headaches after waking up in the morning

Sleep Apnea: how dangerous is it?

One of the frequently asked questions is the following: is sleep apnea dangerous? If not properly handled, sleep apnea may lead to consequences such as:

  • Stroke due to lack of adequate oxygen in the brain;
  • Heart-related diseases;
  • Diabetes;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Depression;
  • This may lead to accidents in workplaces such as sleeping while operating a machine;

Is sleep apnea considered to be a disability?

A simple answer to the question is a “no”!

However, if your sleep apnea has resulted in serious complications it may be considered a disability. This is according to the nolo legal network

Such complications that qualify you for a disability listing are as follows:

  • Listing 3.09: severe pulmonary hypertension, if your pulmonary artery pressure is at 40mmHg and above;
  • Listing 12.02: chronic state of mood swings, cognitive dissonance, and behavioral issues;
  • Listing 4.02: chronic issues of heart failure;

There are still chances that you can receive benefits if you have sleep apnea. What to do to qualify?

You can fill out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. Your health provider and a claim examiner from Disability Determination Service can complete a form to show if you are able to work as a result of your obstructive sleep apnea, symptoms, or their effect.

What are the sleep apnea risk factors?

Some of the prevalent factors that predispose you to sleep apnea

  • Narrow airway
  • Excessive weight or obesity
  • According to the American Lung Association, men have 2 to 3 higher chances of sleep apnea than women.
  • According to Mayo clinic, you may be prone to obstructive sleep apnea if someone in your family has it.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea becomes more likely as you grow older, according to the American Lung Association.
  • Smokers are more prone to suffer from OSA.
  • If you have underlying health issues such as asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure. 
  • Chronic nasal congestion.

How can severe sleep apnea be treated?

Sleep apnea treatment can be any of these three phases:

1. A change of lifestyle is the first point of call. If you want to stay away from breathing issues you should:

  • maintain a healthy body weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Indulge in exercises to keep your airways open
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption

2. One of the most potent ways to treat OSA is by the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). But, what is cpap? It’s a therapy that provides pressurized air through cpap masks to keep the pharynx open. Another therapy is the use of an oral device to keep your mouth open while you are asleep.

3. When everything fails, your doctor may recommend surgery to keep your airway free from obstructions. 

Concluding remarks

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder you must not handle with levity in order to avoid complications. If you notice any early warning signs, ensure you seek proper medical advice from your doctor.

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