Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suffer from sleep apnea (a condition that more than 20 million Americans suffer from), you know how uncomfortable it can be. Although you may not actually recognize that you have sleep apnea in your waking hours, it will leave you feeling tired and drowsy throughout the day. If it goes on long enough, it can actually increase your chances of having high blood pressure and related problems like stroke or heart attack.

Does this look familiar? It may be time to start looking for sleep apnea solutions.
Does this look familiar? It may be time to start looking for sleep apnea solutions.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea simply means that you stop breathing temporarily when you're sleeping. There are two basic types of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is a very serious condition that should have immediate medical attention, while obstructive sleep apnea often requires a different kind of attention. With central sleep apnea, your body simply "forgets" to make you breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused because your airway is blocked in some way, temporarily.

Most people (9 out of 10) who have sleep apnea suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. This can happen because you are overweight or obese, wherein fat deposits in the throat actually make your throat or chest "cave in" on itself and temporally obstruct your breathing. The sleep apnea itself is interrupted when you change positions so that your airway opens up again.

People who suffer from either kind of sleep apnea don't get enough random eye movement sleep, known as REM sleep. Once people have taken steps to cure their sleep apnea, they feel much better, sometimes like completely different people; fresh, new and alive.

How do you treat obstructive sleep apnea?

There are a number of methods to treat obstructive sleep apnea, and some of them may require medical supervision. However, one of the easiest things to try is simply changing your pillows, mattress and/or sleeping positions.

An example of one cause of sleep apnea. Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov
An example of one cause of sleep apnea. Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov

Memory foam can help

Companies have jumped on board by producing special pillows designed specifically for sleep apnea so that one can sleep on his or her side. Sleeping on your side helps reduce the weight on your chest and throat, and also lets you align your internal air passages much more easily. However, many people are uncomfortable when they sleep on their sides, which can be a problem. Memory foam mattresses or mattress toppers can help make it more comfortable to sleep on one side by relieving pressure points, which can also disturb sleep.

Therefore, if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you may want to try a memory foam mattress and/or topper, plus memory foam pillows, which will allow you to change sleeping positions; by changing sleeping positions and sleeping on your side, obstructive sleep apnea may be a thing of the past. Sweet dreams!

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Moon Willow Lake 4 years ago

Thank-you for the explanations of the two different types. My significant other has this condition, and needs a cpap breathing machine to control his. I'll mention the memory foam idea to him and see if he's interested in maybe trying that, too.

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