obstructive sleep apnea
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing as many as 20-30 times an hour while you sleep. When your breathing stops, your brain wakes you up so you can restart proper breathing. While people with sleep apnea may think they are getting a good night’s sleep, waking up frequently prevents deep sleep that is necessary for refreshing your body. This can lead you to feeling tired during the day.
Are there different types of sleep apnea?
There are three types of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes too much and closes off your airways. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), where your breathing stops because the muscles involved didn’t receive proper signals from your brain. The final type of sleep apnea is “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.
Common signs you suffer from sleep apnea
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea:
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Shortness of breath at night
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
Is it dangerous?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and can increase the risk of heart failure or stroke. Due to the fatigue many people experience, it may also lead to problems at work or school, or while driving.
If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, alert any doctors who prescribe medication or advise surgery. Sedation by anesthesia can be risky for people who suffer from sleep apnea.
Are certain people at higher risk for sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in men and in people over the age of 40, but anyone can suffer from sleep apnea - regardless of age or gender. People who smoke, drink heavily, have high blood pressure, are obese, or have a family history of sleep apnea are also at a higher risk.
Central sleep apnea most often affects people who have heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors. It is also more common in men.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the issue. It may be as simple as losing weight, quitting smoking, or changing your sleeping position. We may need to set up a sleep study to determine the best course of treatment for your issue. In the most severe cases, surgery can help treat sleep apnea, but for most people, an oral device - such as a CPAP machine - can help you get a good night’s rest.
Do you suspect that you or your family member suffers from sleep apnea?
Give us a call, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist.