Do you find that even after a “good night’s sleep,” you still feel drowsy during the day? Do you snore or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you’re experiencing this, you might be one of more than 12 million Americans that suffer from sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
People that suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing periodically during their sleep as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, you temporarily wake up due to the resulting lack of oxygen. The time you spend awake is usually so brief that most people can’t remember it. This constant wake-sleep cycle stops those with sleep apnea from getting deep sleep, which makes you feel constantly drowsy during the day.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
Here are some common sleep apnea symptoms. If you’re experiencing any of these, contact us!
• Having a hard time sleeping, or insomnia
• Snoring loudly
• Waking up at night breathless
• Snorting or choking sounds at night
• Headaches after waking up
• Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
• Feeling extremely drowsy during the day
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three categories of sleep apnea.
• Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a physical blockage like the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. It’s also the most common!
• Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when breathing stops because the muscles involved don’t receive a proper brain signal, and it’s less common than OSA.
• “Mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Although anyone can suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it’s more common in males than females and in older adults (40+). Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, sedative/tranquilizer use, and family history. In contrast, people with heart/neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors are at risk for central sleep apnea (CSA).
Dangers of Sleep Apnea
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, don’t leave it untreated! It’s considered a serious medical condition because it can cause high blood pressure, and it increases the risk of heart failure and stroke. In addition, feeling constantly fatigued leads to problems at school or work and makes it dangerous to drive or operate heavy machinery. It can also cause complications with medication and surgery. Sedation by anesthesia is risky as well as lying flat in bed after surgery. If you know or suspect that you suffer from sleep apnea, let your doctor know before you’re prescribed medication or having surgery performed.
This depends on the severity of your case as well as the type of apnea. Basic treatment includes behavioral changes, such as weight loss, smoking cessation, or sleeping on your side. Oral devices can also be used to position the mouth in a way the prevents throat blockage. Severe cases might be best treated via surgery.
If you suspect that you or someone in your family suffers from sleep apnea, contact our office! We’ll refer you to a sleep apnea specialist who may recommend a sleep study to find the extent of the problem and prescribe the right treatment.