A sleep disorder is a disorder in the sleep patterns of animals and humans. Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder that is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or shallow breathing while sleeping. Apnea is the term used to describe pauses in breathing. These pauses can last for minutes and may occur more than 30 times in an hour. Abnormally shallow breathing is called hypopnea. This disorder is usually diagnosed by an overnight test called polysomnogram.
There are three types: central; obstructive; and complex or mixed. Central apnea, also known as CSA, occurs when breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort. OSA, or obstructive apnea, is when a physical block to airflow interrupts breathing. In this situation, there is respiratory effort. Snoring is a common symptom. Individuals who are suffering from these disorders are sometimes unaware of it.
The effects of these disorders can impact the cognition of a person. Common symptoms and effects: slowed reaction time, problems with vision, trouble processing information and daytime fatigue. Some effects on the behavior include moodiness, aggressiveness and decreased motivation. Many of these reactions can negatively impact work, especially in occupations where machine operating and manual labor are required.
The disorder guidelines can be complex. For that reason, many doctors conduct several tests and studies before making a final diagnosis. Sometimes evaluation of clinical symptoms and test results from a study are adequate proof. An oximetry may be conducted in place of a standard test. The oximetry is thought to be an easier alternative and is performed at the home of a patient.
OSA is the most common form of sleep-disordered breathing. The risk for this disorder increases with age, smoking, diabetes and increased body weight. Common symptoms: daytime tiredness, restlessness and snoring. During CSA, the respiratory control systems of the brain are not balanced. A person struggling with this will stop breathing and start up again. Mixed and complex apnea is a combination of central and obstructive disorders. Often, when OSA is severe or constant, CSA develops.
Treatment often begins with behavioral therapy. Mild cases may only requite subtle changes in lifestyle such as avoiding sleeping pills and alcohol and resting on the side of the body. The Pillar Procedure may also be utilized. The continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP, or automatic positive airway pressure, APAP, is commonly used in moderate-to-severe cases. A custom mouthpiece that shifts the jaw and opens the airway is used in oral appliance therapy. Surgery is said to be the most effective treatment with its 95 percent cure rate. Maxillomandibular advancement is the most common and effective of surgery for this problem.
There are alternative treatment methods. Some physicians suggest patients play a wind instrument called the didgeridoo. This is said to reduce snoring, tiredness and in some cases, the disorders. Oropharyngeal exercises, used in speech therapy, have been shown to treat moderate cases of OSA.
These disorders have afflicted middle-aged women and men for years. The development of CPAP revolutionized the management of obstructive apnea. Colin Sullivan and his colleagues first described CPAP in the 1980s in Australia. From that point forward, there was a desire to seek out those affected by disorders, which eventually led to the development of hundreds of sleep disorder clinics.