Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, but for those affected by sleep apnea, restful slumber remains hard to come by. Sleep apnea is a prevalent sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. As the condition continues to gain attention, it’s crucial to address some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding sleep apnea. In this blog, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions on sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by recurrent interruptions in breathing during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. These interruptions, known as apneas, can last for several seconds to a minute. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don’t remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night’s sleep when, in fact, they are not. This can lead to not achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
What are the different types of Sleep Apnea?
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
- OSA, is the most common form and it occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax excessively, leading to the blockage of airflow into the lungs
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
- CSA is caused by a miscommunication between the brain and the muscles responsible for controlling breathing.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome
- Also known as Treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
How Can Sleep Apnea Be Treated?
- Lifestyle Changes
- Weight loss, stopping smoking, avoiding alcohol and sedatives, and sleeping on your side can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy
- This involves wearing a mask connected to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air, keeping the airway open during sleep. This is the most common treatment.
- Oral Appliances
- These devices reposition the jaw and tongue to maintain an open airway, and to be worn throughout the night.
- In certain cases, surgical procedures may be recommended to remove excess tissue or reposition anatomical structures to improve airflow.
What are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
- Loud Snoring
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Morning Headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (Sleep Insomnia)
- Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
- Awakening with a dry mouth
What are the risk factors for not treating sleep apnea?
Untreated sleep Apnea can lead to
- High Blood Pressure
- Cognitive Decline/Dementia
- Cardiovascular problems and an increased risk of heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Daytime fatigue, drowsy driving
- Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety
- Shorten Lifespan.
Sleep apnea is a prevalent sleep disorder that can have a significant impact on a person’s health and quality of life. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and available treatments, individuals can take proactive steps toward seeking help and finding effective solutions.
If you suspect you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Remember, a restful night’s sleep is within reach with the right knowledge and support.