Sleep apnea is a serious and common sleep disorder that causes breathing to pause or become shallow during sleep. It is usually a chronic condition that results in poor quality of sleep. Unfortunately, it frequently goes undiagnosed due to the fact that many people do not realize they have it until a partner observes them sleeping. Many people sleep alone and are not aware they have sleep apnea. If the sleep disorder goes undiagnosed for a long period of time it puts the person at risk of experiencing a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity. You may want to undergo a sleep test to see if sleep apnea is affecting you.
Who is at Risk?
- Those who suffer from allergies or sinus problems.
- Those who have a deviated septum.
- Those with nasal obstruction.
- Being over the age of 40.
- Being overweight.
- Men who have a neck size of 17 inches or larger.
- Women who have a neck size 16 inches or larger.
- Those who have a family history of sleep apnea.
- Large tonsils.
- Small jaw bone.
- Large tongue.
- Those who experience gastroesophageal reflux, also known as GERD
Different Types of Sleep Apnea
- Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea does not produce snoring. It is less common than the other types of sleep apnea and it involves the central nervous system. It occurs when muscles that control breathing do not receive the signal from your brain.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea – This is the most common type of sleep apnea and the most diagnosed since it results in extremely loud snoring. The loud snoring results from the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxing and blocking the airway.
- Complex Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea combines both the obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Symptoms and Signs
- Waking up out of sleep choking.
- Sleepiness during the day.
- Waking up out of sleep gasping for air.
- Dry mouth upon awakening.
- Morning headaches.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Mood swings.
- Changes in personality.
- Fatigue during the day.
Preventing Sleep Apnea
- Sleep on your side.
- Elevate your head on a pillow.
- Keep your nasal passages clear by using a neti pot, breathing strips or saline spray.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid heavy meals and caffeine two hours before bed time.
- Avoid alcohol before bed time.
There are a variety of treatment options for those who suffer with sleep apnea. The most popular option is the Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure mask machine. It provides immediate results and allows the sufferer to awake well rested, clear minded and energized. Another option is Provent, a less invasive device that fits over the nostrils. Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure adjusts the pressure automatically while sleeping by providing less pressure when you exhale and more pressure when you inhale. Adaptive Servo is used to treat those who suffer with central and obstructive sleep apnea by automatically allowing airflow pressure to prevent pauses in breathing. Finally, for those who have a mild case of sleep apnea, there are dental devices such as the manibular repositioning device that opens the airway for better breathing. Those who think they have sleep apnea should consult with a doctor immediately.