Sleep Apnea Is a Growing Health Problem
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly and wake up frequently during the night gasping for air. Sleep apnea can cause daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased risk for accidents. It can also lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor for a diagnosis.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway. Sleep apnea can lead to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
The different types of sleep apnea
There are three different types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type, and happens when your airway becomes blocked during sleep. Central sleep apnea is less common, and occurs when your brain doesn’t send the correct signals to your muscles to keep you breathing. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
If you have sleep apnea, you may not know it. Sleep apnea is a common but serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both types.
Sleep apnea usually is diagnosed based on symptoms, medical and family histories, a physical exam, and results from sleep studies. Mild sleep apnea may be treated with behavioral changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and sleeping on your side. More-severe sleep apnea often requires treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which delivers air through a mask during sleep.
Causes of sleep apnea
There are many potential causes of sleep apnea, which can make it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause in any given individual. However, some of the more common potential causes include:
Obstructive sleep apnea (the most common type), which is caused by a blockage of the airway, typically due to excess weight and fatty tissue around the neck and throat
Central sleep apnea, which occurs when the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
Mixed sleep apnea, which is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea
Certain medical conditions such as heart failure, stroke, or Parkinson’s disease
Use of certain medications such as sedatives or muscle relaxants
Treatments for sleep apnea
There are many treatments for sleep apnea, but the best treatment depends on the severity of the sleep apnea. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to help you breathe better at night. If you have severe sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend surgery to fix the airway obstruction.
Sleep apnea is a growing health problem and it’s time we started to take it seriously. The good news is that there are ways to treat sleep apnea, and with the help of a sleep specialist, you can get your life back on track. If you or someone you know suffers from sleep apnea, don’t wait — seek out help today!