Since today’s generation is the age of technology, even the medical fields use technological innovations in order to be able to diagnose and treat diseases quick and proper. As such, it is common that portable computers and micro cameras in finding out the disease and treat it appropriately. In this article, you will learn the use of portable computers for sleep apnea testing. Before that, let us find out first what sleep apnea is.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is of the many sleep disorders that commonly happen to a lot of people. This disorder is characterized by instances of infrequent or shallow breathing or sometimes pauses in breathing. Each pause of breathing is called apnea. The pause can last for a few seconds to several minutes. They may happen for at least five to thirty times or more in just an hour. On the other hand, each instance of abnormal shallow breathing is called hypopnea.
Sleep apnea is classified as a dyssomnia which means that it is an abnormal behavior that may be psychological and occurs during sleep. When one is experiencing sleep apnea, each time that the breathing is paused, there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Then, the chemoreceptors in the bloodstream will take note of the increasing level of carbon dioxide as well as alert the brain. The brain will then send a signal to wake up the person to breathe in air. Normal breathing will then restore the oxygen levels in the bloodstream. The person then will fall asleep again.
Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed by a sleep test called polysomnogram (sleep study). There are 3 kinds of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea – In OSA, the breathing is interrupted due to a physical block in the airway despite the body’s respiratory effort. Snoring often happens in this type of sleep apnea.
- Central Sleep Apnea – In CSA, the breathing is interrupted by the body’s lack of respiratory effort.
- Mixed sleep apnea (means combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea)
Whatever the type of sleep apnea they are experiencing, people are often unaware that they are experiencing difficulty in sleeping even after they wake up. Cases of sleep apnea are recognized only by people who have witnessed sleep apnea episodes or after they have recognized the signs and symptoms. The signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may be already be present for years, but are often not recognized because the person has already conditioned themselves to the signs and symptoms—that is daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with the sleep disturbances that they are experiencing. Sleep apnea often happens to adults, but there are cases of children experiencing the same thing.
Sleep apnea may seem a harmless sleep disorder to some people, but it can be disturbing and obstructive since the person experiencing it often suffers from daytime sleepiness, impaired alertness, vision problems as well as fatigue after not having slept well before due to sleep disturbances. What is more alarming is that it (OSA) may even cause road and work-related problems. If left untreated, it can also lead to other health problems such as diabetes and there are also some cases that it results in death due to extreme lack of oxygen in the body.
This means that sleep apnea should not be left untreated. Once it is suspected or if signs and symptoms are present that may mean you or someone has sleep apnea, it should be diagnosed and treated as early. Not doing so can lead to some serious problems like chronic illnesses and malfunctions like diabetes and fatty liver diseases which can result in death.
Home Sleep Apnea Testing Using Portable Computer
Diagnosis of sleep apnea is often done through evaluation of the clinical symptoms and the results of the polysomnography or the formal sleep study. Aside from that, there is also the oximetry which is considered to be an easier alternative to polysomnography as it is performed overnight at the patient’s home instead.
This time, however, there are already some home testing methods that can be used to diagnose whether someone has sleep apnea or not. These days, home testing is preferred as it offers more comfort, convenience and affordability compared to other methods of testing for sleep apnea. Due to some important technological innovations available for the medical field, specifically in CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, CPAP therapies can now be initiated even without any formal in-lab CPAP titration.
This method is now preferred as it isn’t disruptive to the patient as it allows the testing to be done conveniently at the patient’s home. Sleep apnea home testing is done through the use of audio device like an mp3 player which will record the sleep sounds and a computer monitoring device which will measure the heart rate, saturation of oxygen as well as analyze the patient’s breathing pattern all through the night.
When using a portable computer in sleep apnea testing, usually it will be attached to a belt that is worn around the chest. The computer will have a pulse oximeter with it which is worn on the finger as well as a nasal cannula in the nose. Sleep apnea home testing is typically done over two consecutive nights. Once the testing is done, the data of the test will be downloaded, analyzed and interpreted by a certified sleep physician.
Apart from computer monitors, you can also use your Smartphone and some audio gadgets to record and analyze your sleep. After which, you can just contact a certified sleep doctor to interpret the results of your test. There are many Smartphone apps that you can use to track your sleep. They usually record your sleep sounds at night, complete with the number of times that you wake up as well as your breathing.
Generally, the phone is worn around your chest just like that of the monitor. During your sleep, it will record all your sleep activity and will show you a graphics of your sleep in the morning along with an analyzation of the data recorded. Once you get the result, you must contact a sleep doctor to analyze it so that you’ll find out whether you have sleep apnea or not.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring is often a symptom of common sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. It can be the first sign that a person has a sleep apnea, which means that snoring should be investigated further once he knows that he is snoring. It is important that it is done so as sleep apnea can cause a variety of diseases such as diabetes as well as fatty liver diseases. It can also cause stress and the lack of sleep will impair everyday functions and can even lead to death, as explained before. As such, snoring should always be investigated. Though it may just be some simple case of sleep deprivation or a sign of other disorders, it should still be checked out to ensure that it isn’t.
Anti-Snoring Mouthpieces for Treating Snoring
There are various ways that can be done in order to treat snoring. It could be self-help or you can also get the help of sleep doctors. You can consult a doctor to find out what the cause of your snoring is and then what can be done to rid of it. Or, you can have some anti-snoring products that can remedy your snoring. Such snoring remedies can be chin straps, pillows, nasal products, natural pills as well as anti-snoring mouthpieces.
It is an anti-snoring piece that is commonly used by people who snore. They are categorized into two classifications, the tongue retaining devices and mandibular repositioning systems. The tongue retaining device is used to keep the tongue slightly to prevent the back of the tongue from blocking the airways. The mandibular repositioning system, on the other hand, works by holding the lower jaw in a slightly forward position and keeping it and other associated structures in a stable position. Devices under the mandibular repositioning systems include MRD (mandibular repositioning devices), MAS (mandibular advancement splint) as well as MAD (mandibular advancement device).
Types of Anti-Snoring Mouthpieces
MAD vs TSD
MAD or mandibular advancement device is one of the most commonly used anti-snoring mouthpieces. It falls on the mandibular repositioning systems category of anti-snoring mouthpieces. MADs are used to attach the upper and lower teeth and reposition the lower jaw so that it is slightly forward in position. MADs are used to keep them in that position, thereby preventing snoring to occur. It is made from a variety of materials such as dental wires and plastic, but these days, they are commonly made from flexible thermoplastic materials with an adjustable feature for convenient use.
MADs have been proven to be effective in preventing and reducing the occurrence of snoring which is why they are high-recommended, though use of them often causes jaw pain, mouth soreness, dry mouth and others. MAD brands that are available and can be purchased over the counter include SnoreRx, VitalSleep, SomnoGuard AP, as well as ZQuiet.
TSA or Tongue Stabilizing Device, on the other hand, woks by being latched on to the tongue using suction and then stabilizing it in a slightly forward position. This way, the tongue is prevented from collapsing and then blocking the passage of air during sleep. This device is the newest technological innovation when it comes to anti-snoring technologies. As opposed to the MAD, TSDs are considered to be more elegant and are more convenient to use. It is also known to be very effective in preventing and reducing snoring as well as obstructive sleep apnea, as shown by many clinical studies conducted to see its effectiveness.
Based on such studies, there are many patients that prefer TSDs over MADs when it comes to CPAP therapy, probably because of its convenient use compared to MADs. It was also found out that TSPs have fewer side effects unlike MADs that cause some gag reflex, jaw soreness and many other effects.
Sleep apnea and snoring can be seen as a simple disorder by many, but they are actually a dangerous disease that can cause serious damage and even death. On that note, it is important that people are able to see the signs and symptoms for an earlier treatment of the disease, thereby preventing other complications. It must always be remembered that prevention is better than cure whatever type of disease that may be.