Many have a hard time breathing at night, without even knowing it. These disturbances in the night can affect your sleep, others around you, but most importantly your breathing. Sleep apnea is the name of this unruly and uninvited nightly guest. Understanding the nature surrounding this phenomenon is helpful in helping to treat it and getting back to a night of good and well-deserved rest.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is dangerous because the body needs oxygen in order to perform properly, and when there is an obstruction preventing that oxygen rich air from being processed, it results in a decrease of oxygen in the body. The key word is obstruction; most causes will involve some bodily blockage of some sort.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when muscles located in the back of the throat relax too much, restricting air in the process. The muscles support the tongue, roof of the mouth, tonsils, and uvula. In adults, the most common cause for obstructive sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity, which is associated with the soft tissues of the throat. In children, enlarged tonsils and overbites can be responsible for obstructive sleep apnea. Chronic nasal congestion can narrow airways, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea as well.
How can Obstructive Sleep Apnea be Treated?
Finally, treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can come in the form of weight loss, nasal decongestants, and CPAP/BPAP (continuous positive airway pressure and bilevel positive airway pressure) devices. These devices aid in the delivery of continuous air to the lungs during sleep. Worn as a mask at night with the occasional aid of a dental guard for positioning, the device keeps a constant flow of air and keeps the airways open during the night. For any questions regarding obstructive sleep apnea, please do not hesitate to call our office today. We are ready to help and guide you every step of the way.