What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which you feel your breathing pattern repeatedly stopping and restarting. It prevents the body tissues from getting sufficient oxygen. If someone tells you that you snore or gasp while asleep and experience poor-quality sleep like excessive daytime sleeping, you need to consult your health provider about sleep apnea.
There are two types of sleep apnea. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea, in which you feel blockage of the airways several times while sleeping. The blockage typically reduces or stops air from flowing freely into your lungs. Obstructive sleep apnea is due to conditions that narrow the airway, such as large tonsils, hormonal changes and obesity.
Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea. It’s a rare variant where the brain can’t send breathing signals. Conditions that affect how the brain sends an impulse to the airway and respiratory muscles can cause central sleep apnea.
Your health provider will study your sleeping pattern and behavior to diagnose sleep apnea.
Who gets sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea affects approximately 10 percent of women and 25 percent of men. In addition, it can also affect human beings of any age, ranging from babies, children, and adults, especially those aged more than 50 years and overweight.
Some physical traits and clinical features are also associated with sleep apnea. For example, people with a large neck, excessive weight and structural abnormalities that narrow the airway, like a low-hanging soft palate, enlarged tonsils, small jaw or nasal obstruction, are prone to obstructive sleep apnea.
What causes sleep apnea?
Generally, sleep apnea is usually identified in patients with heart failure, lung problems or kidney failure.
Central sleep apnea is observed in people with central nervous system problems. For example, patients recovering from stroke or those with a neuromuscular disease like lateral scoliosis.
Obstructive sleep apnea is due to the blockage of the upper airway when soft tissues from the throat collapse when one is asleep.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
In most cases, your bed partner usually identifies signs of sleep apnea. People suffering from sleep apnea don’t have complaints. However, the common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Restless sleep with awakenings.
- Suddenly waking up at night with a sensation of choking or gasping.
- Irritability, forgetfulness, and trouble concentrating.
- Mood swings.
- Night sweats.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Sore throat and dry mouth when waking up.
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sleep evaluation by a sleep specialist or an overnight sleep study is the gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea.
What are the treatments for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is managed conservatively, using medical therapy, surgical procedure, mandibular advancement devices or hypoglossal nerve stimulation.
Conservative management involves weight management, the use of wedge pillows, nasal sprays and avoiding alcohol.
For medical therapy, continuous positive airway pressure is applied, while for surgery, an operation is done to remove the malformed tissues.
Inspire is the only FDA-approved obstructive sleep apnea treatment that works within your body to cure the fundamental cause of sleep apnea.
What are the effects of sleep apnea?
Effects of sleep apnea include arrhythmias, hypertension, enlargement of the heart muscles, heart failure, obesity, stroke and diabetes. Fifty percent of people with atrial fibrillation or heart failure have sleep apnea. Seek advice early from your physician to prevent such life-threatening complications.