Understanding Apnea Hypopnea Index

Diagnosing For Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a disorder that manifests while you slumber. You stop breathing for several seconds if you have this condition. You restart breathing after about ten seconds without awakening, but your sleep cycle is interrupted. You should complete several sleep cycles every night for your cells to recuperate and heal themselves. Restorative sleep helps our bodies rest up and reenergize after a long days’ work.

Hypopnea is very similar to apnea in the sense that it is a disorder that affects your breathing. The difference between the two is that during sleep apnea, you really stop breathing, while in hypopnea, your breathing almost stops or becomes shallow. During sleep apnea, your airways are completely blocked which is why you stop breathing for several seconds. In hypopnea, your airways are just partially blocked resulting in shallow breathing.

Both apnea and hypopnea have three kinds. These are the central, obstructive, and mixed sleep apnea or hypopnea. Both can be tested or rated using the AHI system. It is important to get a clear picture of how mild or severe your sleep disorder might be, so the specialist will be able to properly prescribe treatment.

Apnea-Hypopnea Index

The Apnea-Hypopnea Index, otherwise known as AHI, measures the severity and number of apneas or hypopneas you have during sleep in one hour of sleep. The number of occurrences is indicative of the severity of the disorder. The results of an AHI test for children and adult is different because children do not usually have the disorder so, even one occurrence can be concerning. In adults, a rating of five can still be considered normal, while a result of five to fifteen means you have mild apnea. Moderate sleep apnea will show your results anywhere between fifteen to twenty-nine and severe is thirty or more occurrences per hour.

Related Sleep Apnea Testing

The AHI is a basis for the diagnosis and treatment of your sleep disorder. There is a test which is also used in conjunction with the AHI, it is called the Respiratory Disturbance Index. It counts respiratory effort-related arousals or the times when your sleep was disturbed due to the effort that your body expended to breathe properly.

There is also a sleep study that checks on desaturation or low blood oxygen levels. Oxygen Desaturation Index, otherwise shortened to ODI, checks, and list down the times when your oxygen level decreases for several seconds. Just like the AHI, the occurrences are taken every hour.

Treating Sleep Apnea

Treating your sleep apnea is dependent on the severity of the times that your breathing stops or becomes shallow. Mild cases may benefit from lifestyle changes such as changing your sleeping position or losing weight. Oral appliances can also be used to correct physical issues in the oral cavity or the jaw area. Surgery to remove excess tissues that block the airways can be another way to resolve the breathing issue.

The use of a Continuous Positive Air Pressure machine may be recommended for patients with moderate to severe cases of the disorder. The CPAP is a device that provides a steady stream of air into the airways to keep the obstructions at bay and to get the oxygen continuously to your lungs.

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