You may not be familiar with a condition called hypopnea, but it’s something that affects a lot of people and how they sleep. If you experience general sleeping disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepwalking or other conditions, you might be at risk for having hypopnea as well. This can be a serious condition and it shouldn’t go untreated. Once you detect the symptoms, make sure you take proactive steps to get treatment.
Hypopnea is shallow breathing that occurs while you sleep. This causes a slower flow of air passing through your respiratory tract. It’s similar to sleep apnea, but different. With sleep apnea, there is still some air that’s flowing between the mouth and the nose. Hypopnea is more severe and restrictive of the airflow.
Many people have this condition and it doesn’t matter much; they are still getting enough air and they’re able to breathe while they’re sleeping. However, if airflow is so restricted that it causes a person to stop breathing for 10 seconds and wake up, it’s a condition that can have devastating physical effects. The oxygen in the blood decreases, preventing the person from getting enough sleep and interfering with the passage of oxygen throughout the body.
A person who suffers from hypopnea will often be exhausted, have a lot of headaches and be unable to concentrate. There’s also a greater chance of irritability because of the inability to get a good night’s sleep. This poor quality of sleep can also lead to depression, anxiety, and even personality changes.
What Causes Hypopnea?
This condition can be caused by a number of things. The upper airway muscles, which normally relax during sleep, become strained instead. If a person has narrow upper airways, it will be difficult for the muscles to dilate the way they need to and allow the air to flow. There are other physical conditions that can contribute to hypopnea. Obesity and being overweight could have something to do with the airflow not operating properly during sleeping periods. Any other condition that weakens the respiratory muscles will also put a person at greater risk for developing this condition.
In addition to physical issues leading to this type of sleep disorder, there are behavioral conditions that can lead to hypopnea as well. For example, using alcohol excessively can cause the airflow to slow down dramatically while a person sleeps. Sedatives and smoking will also increase the risk of developing hypopnea along with other factors that contribute to snoring or sleep apnea as well. Take a look at your behaviors before you do anything else, and see if there are any changes in your lifestyle that can be made to minimize your risk of losing sleep and air.
Finding Solutions for Hypopnea
Getting treatment for hypopnea is very important, not only to improve the quality of your sleep but also to improve the quality of your life. This condition can have you feeling horrible in the mornings, and it will have a dramatically negative impact on your daily life if you aren’t able to focus or function the way you normally would. When hypopnea goes untreated, you can have a much higher risk for depression, anxiety, impotence, hypertension, memory loss and even serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes.
For simple treatments that you can try right away, lose some weight if you’re obese and stop smoking if you smoke. Cut down on alcohol as well. You might also want to try to stop sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your back can limit the airflow and it makes it easier for those passages to close.
The most common treatment for this condition is the use of a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which is what you’re trying to achieve. When you’re undergoing CPAP treatment, you’ll wear a mask over your nose and mouth while you sleep to stimulate the flow of air and keep you breathing. This type of treatment has been successful, and it can also help you feel better during the day.
More invasive treatment options such as drugs and surgeries are available. Jaw surgery and the installation of splints can be effective for people who are morbidly obese. However, lifestyle changes and a CPAP machine can make a huge difference in your sleep and your life.
If you think you might suffer from hypopnea, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Sleep disorders might seem like problems that are out of your control, but they’re not. Important steps can be taken to ensure you sleep better and feel better. Get to know this condition and how it affects you; that’s the best way to find a treatment that works.