What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects individuals of all ages. It’s a disorder that causes people to stop breathing while sleeping due to a partially or completely blocked airway. Obstruction occurs when relaxed throat muscles and tongue fall into the airway, causing it to narrow and block airflow to the brain and body. Unbeknownst to many, there are three types of sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome.
Symptoms & Causes
Due to the blockage of the airway, many patients with sleep apnea experience symptoms like loud snoring and choking sounds when trying to breathe. Because the brain and body are deprived of oxygen when experiencing an episode, sleep apnea causes the individual to wake up multiple times throughout the night. While the brain may not fully wake the body, it is enough to disrupt the sleep cycle and cause patients to miss out on a good night’s rest. The continuous act of waking up throughout the night, which can average from 5 to 50 times an hour, may cause restlessness and severe fatigue throughout the day.
Managing Sleep Apnea
Living with sleep apnea is not easy. In fact, it has the ability to not only negatively impact your life but that of your partners as well. Living with a sleep disorder without the proper treatment or therapy can be quite challenging for everyone involved. Learning to manage your sleep apnea will not only help you get the rest you need but will also allow you to keep your body healthy for many years to come.
If sleep apnea is neglected and not treated in time, long term consequences of oxygen deprivation may affect your heart and metabolism. Getting a professional diagnosis and treatment will help alleviate symptoms and help you better manage your sleep apnea with the hopes of improving your quality of life.
Dr. Reece Answers FAQs About Sleep Apnea
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes a person to stop breathing during the night. These interruptions of oxygen can cause sufferers to stop breathing as many as 40 times per hour.
They’ll awaken in the morning feeling as they had little or no sleep and feel excessively tired throughout the day.
How is sleep apnea treated?
The most common treatment is a CPAP machine. With a CPAP, you wear a mask that fits across the face as the machine blows air through your nose, allowing you to breathe properly.
An alternative to CPAP is oral appliance therapy which is specially designed by Dr. Reece, and worn at night to help open your unobstructed airway in the throat.
Additionally, there are a few different kinds of surgeries that can be performed in the attempt of resolving sleep apnea or severe snoring, as well as certain lifestyle changes.
How can I tell if I have sleep apnea, or a loved one?
Signs that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea include:
- ADD and ADHD symptoms
- Lack of concentration or inability to focus
- Morning headaches upon awakening
- Dry mouth
- Restless sleep
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Sexual dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction
- Falling asleep while driving, working and reading
- Short term memory loss
- Gasping and choking during sleep
- Sleepiness and fatigue during the day
- General tiredness throughout the day
- Snoring with pauses in breathing
- Sore throat
- Irritability and Anxiety
Who's typically at risk for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is more prevalent in those who are overweight and older, although children with enlarged tonsils are at risk. The condition is also more common among men than women.
What are the consequences of untreated sleep apnea?
Disturbed and interrupted sleep can cause a wide variety of problems, from the minor to the very serious. These risk factors include excessive drowsiness, fatigue, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, car accidents, obesity, stroke, and sometimes, death.