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A Quick Guide To Understanding And Treating Sleep Apnea At Its Different Stages

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If you have recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the mere diagnosis is not enough to form a treatment plan or even to have a clear understanding of the problem. Instead, you will also need to know the stage of the disease, as illustrated by the severity and frequency of its symptoms. That information will permit you and your physician to work together to effectively treat the issue, which might include specific procedures suggested by your primary care physician or ENT specialist, that are only appropriate for specific stages of sleep apnea. Therefore, it's best to be familiar with mild and moderate sleep apnea procedures and what treatment options are recommended to address your concerns, as shared below: 

Mild Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is only diagnosed after you quit breathing involuntarily while sleeping. In its earliest, mildest, stage, that symptom might only occur once or twice a night and can be hard to diagnose. Your brain will notice the issue within a few seconds and you will breathe again, but the abrupt change will often result in a reduced quality of sleep. Specifically, your deeper REM cycles are frequently impacted, which means you might wake up more often during the night and feel sleepier during the day.   

While many sufferers are not diagnosed at this stage, those persons who do discover that they have sleep apnea at this point might be advised to avoid alcohol or anything with sedating properties close to bedtime. That means that if you suffer from allergies and have been advised to take an allergy medication at night to combat your symptoms, you might need to change to make sure that the one you use doesn't make you sleepy. A mouthpiece to properly align your jaw and tongue might be prescribed at this time, as well as the always helpful options of maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. 

If your symptoms continue or worsen, you should speak with your physician about updating your diagnoses or seeking more aggressive treatment.   

Moderate Sleep Apnea

Moderate sleep apnea is often more likely to be noticed and mentioned to a health care provider because it manifests multiple times during a normal sleep cycle. Since it occurs more often, daytime sleepiness is frequently a bigger problem and your physician might suggest a sleep study. A sleep study is a procedure that typically involves being observed at night in an appropriate facility, evaluating brain waves, oxygen levels, body movements, etc. It is done in order to determine the frequency of your apneic episodes and how dangerous each onset is.   

Another procedure that is less invasive and can be accessed without an overnight stay in a medical facility is a home study. It involves a portable device that often obtains much of the same information accessed from the more in-depth procedure. The results of those tests will determine if you require surgical intervention to remove an obstruction to your respiratory system that occurs while you are asleep. In addition, it evaluates whether the use of a CPAP machine that provides a constant flow of oxygen to your body while you're sleeping is an appropriate choice.

If medical problems are contributing to, causing or resulting from your sleep apnea, you could be referred to an appropriate specialist to more effectively address your health challenges. If your symptoms continue to worsen, there is a higher chance of death due to those repeated episodes of not breathing on a regular basis, so treatment is essential.

In conclusion, sleep apnea can shorten your lifespan and diminish your quality of life. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or suspect that you have it, it is a good idea to be aware of the above information.