What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can be serious, occurring when sleep is interrupted repeatedly due to a halt in breathing. This pause can be from a few seconds to a few minutes. There are 2 kinds of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - The most common type and is due to a blockage of the airway, when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep
- Central sleep apnea - The brain doesn’t signal the muscles to breathe, caused by a malfunction of the respiratory control center
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sleep apnea is typically an ongoing condition that interrupts sleep that can move a person from deep sleep to light sleep. There are no blood tests for sleep apnea and doctors can't know of sleep apnea during routine check-ups. Typically, a spouse notices the condition first and alerts the sufferer.
What causes snoring?
Snoring has many factors, but sleep apnea can result in loud snoring, occurring more frequently in persons who are overweight.
What happens if sleep apnea goes unnoticed?
Undiagnosed sleep apnea has the potential to:
- Increase the likelihood of obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure
- Heighten the risk of heart failure
- Cause arrhythmias/ abnormal heartbeats
- Increase the risk of having accidents, especially while driving or anywhere that concentration is needed
What are the treatment options for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires lifelong monitoring and care. Treatment options include:
- Mouth pieces/mouth guards
- CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) - A powered breathing mask used to pump air through the body
- Surgery - Typically used as a last result, this surgery involves taking out and repositioning extra tissue in the throat to widen the airway and, in some cases, cutting down the soft palate and uvula, tonsil removal, or a repositioning of muscles of the soft palate