Do you snore loudly and feel exhausted even after sleeping through the night? If so, you may be suffering from
sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly. People with
apneaoften experience restless sleep, kicking, punching, shaking, or waking up under a pile of disheveled sheets. Sleep apnea can have serious consequences for your overall health if left untreated. As a sleep medicine specialist, it's important to me to not only educate my patients about the risks of this condition, but also provide them with treatment options that best suit their needs.
In this article, I'll explain what sleep apnea is, how to recognize its symptoms, and what treatments are available. Read on to learn more about this potentially dangerous condition.
What is Sleep Apnea?Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. It can be caused by either obstructive or central sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep ApneaObstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the muscles that support the soft tissues of the throat, such as the tongue and soft palate, temporarily relax.
This causes a blockage in the airway that prevents air from entering the lungs.
Central Sleep ApneaCentral sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when the nerves that control the breathing rate don't transmit signals to the respiratory muscles. This causes a lack of coordination between breathing and brain signals.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring.
Other symptoms include feeling tired even after sleeping through the night, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up short of breath, and having trouble concentrating during the day.
Who Is At Risk Of Developing Sleep Apnea?Anyone can develop sleep apnea, but certain factors increase your risk. These include being a man, being over 40 years old, being overweight, having a large neck and tonsils, using certain opiate medications, having a family history of sleep apnea, having gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), having nasal obstruction, or having had a previous stroke or heart failure.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?The most common way to diagnose sleep apnea is through a sleep study (also called polysomnography). This involves spending the night in a sleep center or laboratory that has equipment to monitor your breathing.
What Treatments Are Available For Sleep Apnea?The most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This device supplies air through a mask placed over your nose or mouth to keep your trachea open when you sleep. Other treatments include lifestyle changes such as losing weight and avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime. Surgery may also be an option for some people with obstructive sleep apnea.
The most effective surgical procedure is called maxilomandibular advancement.