Do you feel tired or drowsy during the day with no explanation as to why? Do you snore loudly or wake up in the middle of the night feeling short of breath? If you have any of these symptoms described you are not alone. Did you know that more than 12 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing properly while asleep which can happen as many as 20 to 30 times in a single hour. You are awakened by your brain signaling your body when oxygen levels to the brain become too low as a result of improper breathing. People who suffer from sleep apnea usually do not notice being awakened at night because the time spent awake is very brief. Essentially this disorder stops your body from entering REM or deep sleep. This causes you to often feel drowsy and fatigued.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
If you notice any of the following symptoms please call and schedule an appointment with Dr. Cynthia Skiba:
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
Are there different types of sleep apnea?
There are 2 types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: OSA is caused by the physical blockage of the throat. This is generally caused by the collapsing of the soft tissue at the back of the throat.
- Central Sleep Apnea: CSA occurs when your brain is not sending the proper signals to your body to support a proper breathing cycle.
Some people suffer from a combination of both of CSA and OSA
What are risk factors for sleep apnea?
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea is more common in males.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea is more common in individuals over the age of 40.
- You are at a higher risk for Sleep Apnea if you suffer from obesity
- You are at a higher risk of having sleep apnea if you smoke, drink, use sedatives or tranquilizers, or have a reoccurring family history of sleep apnea.
- Central Sleep Apnea has been known to affect people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors.
- Central Sleep Apnea is more common in males.
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Sleep apnea is a serious medical problem, and if left untreated, it can lead to:
- high blood pressure
- Increased risk of heart failure and stroke.
If diagnosed with sleep apnea individuals should be weary about driving and avoid operating heavy machinery. Sleep apnea can cause complications with medication and surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case and the type of apnea. Various suggestions include:
- Weight Loss
- Avoid Tobacco Products
- Sleeping on your side instead of your back.
- Use of oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage.
- In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option.
What should I do if I suspect that someone in my family suffers from sleep apnea?
Contact our practice, and Dr. Cynthia Skiba can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a “sleep study” to diagnose the precise extent of the problem and can then prescribe appropriate treatment.