Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that could be fatal. More often than you might imagine. Both sexes and all age groups experience it, but males experience it more frequently. It affects more than 20 million Americans. It is characterized by brief breathing pauses while you’re asleep. This disorder comes in 3 different forms:
- Obstructive snoring. This occurs when breathing attempts are made but air cannot enter or exit the nose or mouth.
- Central snoring. When the brain fails to instruct the muscles to begin breathing, this occurs. Obstructive sleep apnea is more frequent than central sleep apnea.
- Complicated sleep apnea These symptoms are a combination of those seen in both central and obstructive.
Involuntary breathing pauses, also known as “apneic episodes,” are brought on by sleep apnea. The number of incidents every hour could range from 20 to 30 or more. You might snore in between activities. But not all snorers have sleep apnea. You might get a choking sensation as a result. Early morning headaches and excessive afternoon tiredness are frequently caused by the frequent interruptions of deep, restorative sleep.
You are unable to breathe in oxygen or exhale carbon dioxide during an apneic episode. Low quantities of oxygen and higher levels of carbon dioxide are the outcomes in the blood. This signals the brain to start breathing again and awakens it. The upper airway muscles receive a signal from the brain to open the airway with each arousal. Breathing starts up again, frequently with a loud gasp or snort. Despite being necessary for breathing to restart, frequent arousals inhibit deep, restorative sleep.
It should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible because it may be linked to:
- abnormal heartbeat
- elevated blood pressure
- chest pain
- Daytime slumber
- increased likelihood of traffic collisions
Why does sleep apnea occur?
Breathing pauses during sleep are brought on by specific structural and mechanical issues with the airway. Apnea occurs:
when the tongue and throat muscles loosen up while you’re sleeping and partially restrict your airway
The airway becomes clogged when the soft palate muscles at the base of the tongue and the uvula loosen up and sag, making breathing difficult, noisy, or even impossible.
When an excessive quantity of tissue in the airway narrows it in overweight people
The individual with the restricted airway continues to make an effort to breathe, but air cannot easily enter or exit the nose or mouth.
Who is susceptible to sleep apnea?
There appears to be a genetic component to sleep apnea in some families. The following individuals are most susceptible to having or developing sleep apnea:
- Snore frequently
- Are overweight and/or have hypertension
- possess a physical defect in your nose, throat, or other areas of your upper airway
- The frequency and length of breathing pauses in those with sleep apnea are increased by the use of alcohol and sleeping drugs.
What are the signs?
Your breathing pauses several times while you’re asleep if you have either type of sleep apnea. We refer to these as apneic episodes. The number of incidents every hour could range from 20 to 30 or more. You might snore in between things. But not all snorers have sleep apnea. Choking symptoms may also be brought on by sleep apnea. You can snort or gasp as your breathing starts up again. Headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness are frequently caused by these irregular deep, restorative sleep cycles.
Dry mouth, a painful throat, and focus issues are other signs.
The best way to treat sleep apnea?
Your age, general health, and symptoms will all affect how you are treated. Furthermore, it will depend on how serious the problem is. It is typically not treated with medications. Treatment options include:
Oxygen. However, giving oxygen won’t cure sleep apnea or stop excessive daytime sleepiness in some people. Its application to the management of this disorder is debatable.
Alterations in behavior These are crucial to the course of treatment. Behavioral therapy could be a sufficient treatment for sleep apnea in mild situations. You might be told to:
- not using tobacco or alcohol.
- avoid taking sleeping medications.
- If overweight, lose weight. For most persons, a weight loss of even 10% can lower the frequency of sleep apnea occurrences.
- To aid in side sleeping, use pillows and other tools.
Either mechanical or physical therapy. Every night, a machine called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is employed. For this procedure, you sleep with a mask covering your mouth and nose or only your nose. Air is forced into the nose and throat by pressure from an air blower.
Dental equipment Some patients with moderate sleep apnea or those who snore but don’t have apnea have found them to be useful in repositioning the lower jaw and the tongue.
Oral and dental therapy. This can assist by strengthening the mouth and facial muscles and enhancing tongue posture.
Surgery. Some sufferers might require surgery. These procedures include, for example:
- Adenoids, tonsils, nasal polyps, various growths or tissue in the airway, as well as surgery to rectify structural abnormalities can all be removed by surgery.
- surgery to remove extra tissue from the throat’s back (tonsils, uvula, and part of the soft palate)
- surgery to correct lower jaw and upper jaw (maxilla) abnormalities (mandible).
- Having weight loss surgery
A nerve stimulator. A hypoglossal nerve stimulator is a more recent therapy option for some patients. When the implanted gadget notices that the airway is narrowing while you’re sleeping, it causes the neck muscle to tense.
If you struggle with sleep apnea and live in or near Chandler, Arizona, please contact me to schedule a consultation today.