Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. The term apnea can be translated to “without breath” and refers to a breathing pause that lasts as short as 10 seconds to over a minute. This involuntary pause in breathing can result either from a blocked airway or signaling problem in the brain, meaning the brain and rest of the body may not be getting the oxygen they require. Once the airway is opened back up or the brain receives the required breathing signal, the person will exabit disruptive sleep patterns that may be characterized as a snorting, deep breathing, or waking up completely.
The most common types of sleep apnea are:
Though there are several types of sleep apnea, the two prominent types include obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. It is important to understand the key differences of these sleeping disorders so you can know how to properly treat each one.
Sleep apnea can be caused by a number of factors, though the most common risks associated with sleep apnea include:
Sleep apnea is very common, affecting more than 18 million Americans according to the National Sleep Foundation. Studies have found that 1 in 5 adults have mild symptoms of OSA, while 1 in 15 display moderate-to-sever- symptoms. Though sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and sexes, it is most commonly seen in overweight males over the age of 40. With that being said, recent studies conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology have found that by the age of menopause, 20% or more of women will develop sleep apnea due to reductions in estrogen levels. Though all of these conclusions can give us a ball park idea of how common sleep apnea is, lack of awareness by the public and many health care professionals have resulted in the vast majority of sleep apnea patients remaining undiagnosed, and therefore untreated despite the seriousness of the disorder.
Out of the 18 million Americas who are affected bysleep apnea, it is said that only 20% of people have been diagnosed and treated. In most cases however, the person suffering from sleep apnea is unaware of any breath stoppages because their type of disorder does not trigger a full awakening. Some signs that may indicate that you are suffering from sleep apnea include:
Though these are pretty good indications that on one is suffering from sleep apnea, there will not always be a plethora of symptoms present. If you think there is a possibility you have some sort of sleeping disorder, contact the professionals at Sleep Dynamics centers in NJ to have a consultation with one of our highly qualified sleep physicians.
Treatment for sleep apnea ranges from lifestyle changes to surgery. Some simple behaviors that you can incorporate into your life to help treat mild cases of sleep apnea include losing weight, avoiding drugs (such as alcohol, tobacco, and sleeping pills), and changing your sleeping positions (avoid sleeping on back). Though lifestyle changes are a great way to mitigate symptoms of sleep apnea, it is best to get a professional’s opinion on the type of treatment option is right for you and your type of sleep apnea. The most common methods used to treat sleep apnea include:
According to the National Sleep Foundation, CPAP is the leading therapy for sleep apnea. The majority of people who use CPAP find immediate symptom relief and find that they are finally able to control their apnea. CPAP has been known to fully resolve sleep apnea, but only when it is properly and regularly used.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition and if untreated, can cause serious health complications over time. These effects include:
Untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of multiple diseases that can lead to death. Additionally, moderate-to-severe sleep apnea may also increase your risk of recurrent heart attack. If you have heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen can lead to abnormal heartbeats and sudden death.