Don’t Let Sleep Apnea Keep You From Getting a Good Night’s Sleep!
• Symptoms of sleep apnea vary but can include early afternoon sleepiness
• Causes can include weight, lifestyle, genetics and many more
• The process starts by taking a simple sleep test
• In more severe cases of sleep apnea, a device called a CPAP machine may be needed
• Dr. Wise will help explain the process and your specific options
Everything You Need to Know About Sleep Apnea
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to sleep apnea is that it only involves snoring while sleeping. In truth, the problem extends well beyond just snoring in that it interrupts one’s ability to breathe, which can be quite dangerous. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, severe cases involving obstructive sleep apnea increases the risks of diabetes, heart failure, strokes, and other serious health problems. It is also worth noting that sleep apnea can take on many forms including complex sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and, lastly, obstructive sleep apnea. In this article, we will detail the difference between these three sleep problems and also highlight some of the more common symptoms.
COMPLEX SLEEP APNEA
Commonly confused with obstructive sleep apnea, complex apnea is a condition whereby an individual is afflicted with sleep apnea and central sleep apnea simultaneously. This unique occurrence is similar to obstructive sleep apnea is that individuals will stop breathing 20 to 30 times per hour while sleeping. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, however, the problem cannot be resolved through the use of a CPAP machine, which applies continuous airway pressure. If you’re not familiar with a CPAP machine, it is designed to open a patient’s airway to allow for unobstructed breathing. These breathing machines are only partly successful in resolving complex sleep apnea; although they can open the airway, most patients are still not able to properly breathe and will often exhibit symptoms synonymous with that of central sleep apnea instead.
CENTRAL SLEEP APNEA
Now that we have a general understanding of complex sleep apnea, let’s focus our attention on central sleep apnea, a condition that stems from miscommunication between the brain and the muscles that are responsible for breathing. Those afflicted with central sleep apnea typically experience shallow breathing or breathing that abruptly stops while asleep. One of the things that differentiate central sleep apnea from obstructive sleep apnea is the root cause of disruptive sleep. While a physical blockage, like the position of the tongue or jaw, for example, results in obstructive sleep, central sleep apnea is linked to a neurological disorder.
Basically, those with this condition also have an underlying health problem that affects the brain, which, in turn, affects the muscles that control their breathing. Some of these health problems include brain infections, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. Certain medications like opioids and benzodiazepines may also contribute to central sleep apnea.
OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most commonly diagnosed form of sleep apnea and is characterized by complete or partial blockage of a patient’s airway. In most cases, obstructive sleep apnea stems from excess body weight and an airway that is too narrow. Some of the tell-tale signs of this breathing condition include snoring, gasping, and snorting. In many cases, losing weight can help resolve this condition; however, medication and breathing machines may be necessary.
WHAT CAUSES SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep apnea, regardless of the type that you’ve been diagnosed with, is usually tied to an underlying health problem. In most cases, resolving the underlying condition will resolve sleep apnea. However, it is important to note that there are certain risk factors that can significantly increase one’s chance of developing the condition including
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Large tonsils
- Large adenoids
- Misaligned upper or lower jaw
- Brain infection or tumors
SLEEP APNEA SYMPTOMS
While snoring is the most common, there are several other symptoms commonly associated with all three forms of sleep apnea including
- Headaches upon waking up
- Decreased libido and sexual dysfunction
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in your voice
- Lack of focus
- Dry mouth upon waking up
- Feeling exhausted after sleeping for 8 hours or more