How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
If you or your partner suspect that you are suffering from sleep apnea, talk to your family doctor first, he or she will eventually refer you to an ear, nose, throat or pulmonologist. First, an outpatient diagnosis can be done. In addition, you will receive a small portable measuring device, which you attach to the body before going to bed as instructed with several measuring points. The device records eg the pulse and snoring sounds. If the measured values increase the suspicion of sleep apnea, the final diagnosis is carried out in a sleep medical center ("sleep laboratory").
What therapies are there?
First, the various options should be implemented to prevent snoring itself. How to improve the snoring:
- Often already shows a weight loss a measurable success: In a Finnish study after a weight loss a quarter of patients no longer snore at all!
- Refrain from late supper and alcohol and smoking at bedtime; as well as sedatives and hypnotics as well as antihistamines (allergy remedies) - these relax the muscles and thus also the mouth and throat area.
- As with all other sleep problems, the following applies: Observe the rules for good sleep hygiene - ensure a quiet environment, adequately ventilate your sleeping space, and maintain regular sleep rhythms.
- Sleep with your upper body raised and avoid the supine position (tip from Grandma's treasure chest: have a tennis ball stitched into the back of the pajamas).
- In the medical trade, you will receive various aids against snoring (eg sleeping vest, chin band, bite splints, nasal plasters or staples) - let us advise you.
Apnea: treatment by mask
If the snoring does not improve and there is actually an apnea, you should have it treated: Very good results can be achieved with breathing therapy devices - even if they take some getting used to. In particular, "nasal overpressure devices" (nCPAP therapy) are used in which oxygen-rich air is conveyed by means of overpressure into the respiratory tract during sleep via a breathing mask (connected to the therapy device). As a result, they are "splinted" from the inside, so they do not collapse as a result of the flaccid muscles but remain open. The applied pressure is determined individually for each patient. The device is prescribed by the doctor.
Sleep apnea: surgery can help
There are several surgical therapies that treat sleep apnea. These OPs are basically divided into two types:
- inpatient surgery
- outpatient surgery
As a rule, during surgery tissue parts in the mouth and throat are removed to facilitate breathing. How effective the procedure is and how long an improvement by the operation will last depends on the method of operation and the individual circumstances of the patient.