July 11th, 2022
For patients with sleep apnea, the continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) is a recommended treatment method. It improves your breathing and allows you to catch on a good night’s rest. The device delivers a stream of oxygen into your lungs and opens up obstructions. Measuring AHI can help determine how severe your apnea is before therapy and how well your body is responding to the treatment. To know in detail what is AHI and how it works, read the article. Here you go!
What is AHI?
Apnea-hypopnea index or AHI refers to the average number of times your body experiences an apnea or hypopnea episode in one hour of sleep. For a clearer understanding, apnea refers to an event when your breathing pauses while resting. It may result from closing off of the airway because of your tongue or soft palate. So, if the air stops flowing from the nose or mouth, it is apnea, despite whether your chest or abdomen is moving as you try to breathe. On the other hand, hypopnea can be explained as a period of shallow breathing. Experts suggest that when there is a 30% drop in the amount of air flowing through the airways, it is an episode of hypopnea. To qualify as an apnea or hypopnea episode, the breathing alteration must be at least 10 seconds long.
When is AHI measured?
The first time you may come across AHI is on sleep test reports. The polysomnography test that helps determine whether you are suffering from sleep apnea uses AHI as a measure. However, some facilities use factors other than AHI. These include RDI (respiratory disturbance index) and oxygen-desaturation index.
What is the goal for AHI?
Since your breathing pattern can change from one night to another, it is not helpful to reach a specific number daily. Your apnea can worsen by resting on your back, using muscle relaxants, drinking alcohol, or nasal congestion. Because these factors can affect your AHI, it is best to calculate the results over 30 to 90 days.
As far as the AHI goal is concerned, the optimal measure may depend upon how severe is your condition. The target may also vary depending upon what is causing the breathing issues. With that said, it is crucial to note that an ideal AHI is less than five episodes in an hour. Some sleep specialists may aim to bring them under two events every hour for better sleep.
What is AHI used for?
The apnea-hypopnea index helps you choose the best treatment method for you:
The CPAP therapy is suitable for treating mild, moderate, or even severe sleep apnea.
You can opt for surgery if your apnea results from anatomical problems.
Some therapists recommend positional therapy if they suspect your condition worsens while lying on your back.
For treating mild or moderate apnea, oral appliances are an ideal choice. They are similar to mouth guards that hold your tongue down to prevent it from blocking your airway.
So, there is no ideal number for the apnea-hypopnea index. However, it is better to keep the events under five for better sleep.
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