What is Sleep Apnea:
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. Which restrict the brain, and your body from getting enough oxygen.
Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing is disrupted during sleep. These interruptions last 10 to 30 seconds, and may occur hundreds of times throughout sleeping. A person with sleep apnea may experience loud snoring, brief pauses in breathing, and intermittent gasping. During apnea events, the oxygen level of the blood drops, the heart rate increases, and sleep becomes disrupted as the affected person wakes up to resume breathing. This can have significant consequences on one’s health.
The most common type of Sleep Apnea:
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. It happens when your tongue, tonsils, or other tissues in the back of the throat block the airway. When you try to breathe in, the air can’t get through. Central sleep apnea is less common than OSA. Central sleep apnea means the brain doesn’t always signal the body to breathe when it should.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Aside from the pauses in breathing which are typical of the disorder, there are many other common symptoms in sleep apnea. These symptoms may include:
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Morning headache
- Memory or learning problems
- Feeling irritable
- Poor concentration
- Changes in mood, including depression
- Poor concentration
- Dry throat or mouth upon awakening
Causes of Sleep Apnea
There are a few common causes of sleep apnea and situations that can make it worse, including:
- Being overweight or obese (including a large neck size)
- Abnormal upper airway anatomy (including deviated septum)
- Using medications, drugs, or alcohol
- Sleeping on back
- REM or dreaming sleep
Sleep apnea is a relatively common disorder that involves pauses in breathing that occur during sleep. There are various sub-types of sleep apnea, and it may be more common in specific populations. The symptoms that result often include excessive daytime sleepiness, but there can also be serious — and even deadly — consequences. There are several conditions that may cause sleep apnea or make it worse. Diagnosis typically relies on a careful history and physical examination by a physician and a sleep study such as a polysomnogram. Treatment may be accomplished with the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or other alternative therapies such as dental devices or even surgery. There may be certain accommodations that must be arranged in order to maximize therapy compliance. Fortunately sleep apnea can often be successfully treated with favorable results.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “International classification of sleep disorders: Diagnostic and coding manual.” 2nd ed. 2005.
Collop, N. “The effect of obstructive sleep apnea on chronic medical disorders.” Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2007 74:1.
Durmer, J et al. “Pediatric Sleep Medicine.” American Academy of Neurology Continuum. 2007; 153-200.
Epstein, LJ et al. “Clinical guideline for the evaluation, management, and long-term care of obstructive sleep apnea in adults.” J Clin Sleep Med. 2009; 5:263.
Jennum, P et al. “Epidemiology of sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome and sleep-disordered breathing.”Eur Respir J. 2009; 33:907.