What is Hypopnea?
Hypopnea is a sleeping disorder similar to Sleep Apnea but with reduced severity. In this disorder, a person encounters episodes of overly shallow breathing or an abnormally low respiratory rate. The severity of Sleep Apnea varies from moderate to severe. In many cases, people do tend to sleep the entire night but when they wake up; they feel like they have not rested at all. This is because they have not had the required amount or quality of sleep during the night. Moreover, due to the disruption in breathing whilst sleeping, there is a drop in blood oxygen level which may disturb the different stages of sleep.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome (OSAH)?
It is important to be aware of the fact that Sleep Apnea, Snoring and Hypopnea are all Sleeping Disorders and are all inter related with each other. During OSAH, there is repetitive collapse of the upper airway which results in either hypopnea or if increased severity, then it may result in Sleep Apnea. An OSAH patient usually encounters episode of shallow breathing or in severe cases, loss of breath for a few seconds. This episode happens around five to a hundred times depending on the severity of the patient’s disorder.
Causes of Hypopnea
There are several causes of Hypopnea and following is a list for reference you need to know if you or a loved one is suffering from it:
- Anatomical defects such as nasal septum deformation or congenital narrowness of nasal meatus and the gullet.
- Acute Tonsillitis and/or Adenoiditis.
- Obesity or Being Overweight.
- Neuromuscular Disease or any condition which entails weakened respiratory muscles.
- Hypoventilation Syndromes involving compromised or failed respiratory drive.
- Use of Sedatives (Sleeping Pills, etc.)
- Alcohol Abuse
- Other conditions which are also typical causes of Airway Obstruction, Snoring and Sleep Apnea.
How can Hypopnea be treated?
A very common treatment for Obstructive Hypopnea is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment. In this treatment the patient wears a mask over the nose and/or mouth. An air blower forces air through the upper airway. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to maintain the oxygen saturation levels in the blood. Another treatment is sometimes a custom fitted Oral Device which is also used to cure Sleep Apnea. Majority of the doctors recommend Oral Devices for those who prefer them to CPAP and have mild to moderate Sleep Apnea or those that do not respond to or cannot wear a CPAP device. CPAP is very uncomfortable which is why people prefer wearing Oral Devices than CPAP.
What is the Difference between Sleep Apnea and Hypopnea?
Sleep Apnea and Hypopnea are very similar to each other and the difference between them is very small. Sleep Apnea is complete disruption of breathing caused due to complete obstruction of airflow from nose to lungs whereas Hypopnea is shallow or slow breathing caused due to a partial obstruction. Hypopnea is less severe compared to Apnea and both conditions have similar causes, symptoms and plan of treatment.