Sleep Apnea and Treatments
Have you been told that you snore loudly, or sound like you are choking or gasping for air while you sleep? If so, there is a good chance that you have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that often goes undiagnosed. Most people with sleep apnea only know they might have it, because one of their family members or bed partners noticed the symptoms.
Another reason sleep apnea often goes undetected is that it cannot be diagnosed through regular physical exams. There are no blood tests for diagnosing sleep apnea. Instead, it is primarily diagnosed through sleep studies. When left untreated or treated improperly, chronic sleep apnea can lead to a variety of negative mental and physical health conditions.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in your throat become relaxed during sleep. As the soft tissues relaxes, they collapse and blocks the airway, which then causes breathing to becomes shallow and momentarily paused.
As the patient labors to breath, he or she will often emit loud snoring sounds, which causes the patient to briefly wake up then fall back asleep, usually without realizing the episode has occurred.
The word “apnea” refers to episodes of paused breathing that lasts for more than ten seconds at a time, causing the patient to suffer from a lack of oxygen during sleep. Patients with more severe sleep apnea will have multiple episodes throughout the night.
Obstructive sleep apnea, commonly referred to as sleep apnea, can severely disrupt your sleep, while also causing low blood oxygen levels, which can lead to a variety of other health issues. About 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, affecting all age groups and both sexes. Sleep apnea is much more common in adults, and only affects about 2-3% of children.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea. For instance, patients who are obese are four times more likely to develop sleep apnea. At the same time, not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight. A patient’s neck width can increase their risk for sleep apnea, since thicker necks tend to cause narrower airways.
Genetics can also influence your risk of developing sleep apnea. Some people are naturally born with narrower airways or larger tonsils, which puts the airway at a higher risk of becoming blocked during sleep. Men are also twice as likely to develop sleep apnea than women, while women are at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea after menopause.
Certain outside factors can also increase your risk of sleep apnea, like the use of alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, and smoking. Smokers are about three time more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than non-smokers. Not to mention, smoking increases inflammation, fluid retention, and congestion in your airway, which also increases your likelihood of suffering from sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Most sleep apnea symptoms occur the following day from a poor night’s sleep. The primary symptom of sleep apnea is that patients wake up after a full night’s rest still feeling groggy and tired. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
● Loud snoring and episodes of paused breathing during sleep, often observed by another person
● Headaches in the morning
● Abruptly waking up in the middle of the night, often along with a shortness of breath
● Waking up with a sore throat and dry mouth
● Excessive tiredness during the day
● Attention deficit issues
● Short tempered and anxious during the day
Most people don’t consider snoring as a sign of a medical condition, and not everyone with sleep apnea snores. However, excessive snoring along with the above symptoms, especially daytime drowsiness, could be a sign of sleep apnea, and you should schedule an appointment immediately.
Complications from Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can lead to a variety of mental and physical health complications. Serious complications from sleep apnea can arise from excessive daytime fatigue, which puts you at an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents and workplace accidents.
Patients with untreated sleep apnea are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Low blood oxygen levels during sleep can put a lot of stress on your cardiovascular system and increase your blood pressure. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea are also at an increased risk of developing abnormal heartbeats, like atrial fibrillation, and recurrent heart attacks.
People with sleep apnea are also more likely to suffer from insulin resistance in comparison to those without sleep disorders. Sleep apnea can make you more prone to receiving abnormal results on liver tests. Patients with sleep apnea are more likely to see scarring on their liver and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Another large complication from sleep apnea can be a strained relationship. Loud snoring from sleep apnea can disrupt the sleep of your bed partner, which can lead to bed partners becoming sleep-deprived, sleeping in other parts of the house, and eventually damage to an otherwise healthy relationship.
Sleep Apnea Treatments in Gilbert, AZ
there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment for sleep apnea. We will help you find a suitable treatment for your sleep apnea condition, based on your sleep patterns and the severity of your sleep apnea.
While there are multiple treatments for sleep apnea, the most common treatment device is the continuous positive airway pressure device, also known as a CPAP machine. CPAP treatments work by placing a mask over the nose or mouth to gently send air through your airway, keeping it open while you sleep.
CPAP treatments are considered the gold-standard for sleep apnea, and they can be tailored to your circumstances for a more effective treatment. For instance, you can choose different versions of masks, depending on which type is the most comfortable and effective for your facial structure. At the same time, CPAP treatments are not always functional for every patient, and as they can become highly uncomfortable.