What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleeping disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you have been told that you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea.
There are types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the common form that occurs when your throat muscles relax. The muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), tonsils, sidewalls of the throat and the tongue. When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. This causes a lowering of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses your inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep to reopen your airway. The episode is so brief that you can’t remember doing this. Snorting, choking or gasping can also interrupt your deep and restful phases of sleep.
- Central sleep apnea, less common form of sleep apnea, occurs when your brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. You can awake several times to gasp for air and you may have difficulty to get back to sleep or stay asleep.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (treatment-emergent central sleep apnea) Occurs when you have both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
These symptoms can affect anyone, even children but be treated, controlled and in most cases cured. Sleep Apnea Center of Los Angeles has treated hundreds of patients, using most recent technology and education to correctly diagnose which type of sleep apnea you have. Once diagnosed, Sleep Apnea Center of Los Angeles creates a treatment plan customized to your needs.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud Snoring
- Episodes of ceased breathing during sleep (noticed by another person)
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Waking up with a headache
- Dry mouth
- Insomnia (difficulty staying asleep)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty with attention while awake
What can contribute to sleep apnea?
- Excess weight. Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing during sleep.
- Neck Circumference. Persons with a thicker neck may have narrowing airways.
- A narrowed airway. Tonsils, adenoids and narrow throats can enlarge or block you airway, particularly in children.
- Men are two to three times likely to have sleep apnea that women. Women can have a higher risk of sleep apnea if they are overweight and rises after menopause.
- Sleep apnea symptoms occurs significantly more often in seniors.
- Family history. Having family members with sleep apnea increases your risk as you age.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. Medication and drugs may relax your throat and increase you obstructive sleep apnea.
- Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than those who do not smoke. Smoking can also increase the inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
- Nasal and sinus congestion. Allergies, colds and flu can obstruct and increase your risk of sleep apnea.
Central Sleep Apnea
- Middle age and seniors have a higher risk of central sleep apnea.
- Central sleep apnea is more common in men than women.
- Heart disorders. Congestive Heart Failure increases your risk of Sleep Apnea.
- Medications and drugs. Opioid medications, especially long-acting ones increase (Methadone) the risk of Central Sleep Apnea.
- Strokes increase the risk of Central Sleep Apnea and or Treatment-emergent Central Sleep Apnea.