Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods throughout the night. These episodes can occur between 5 and 30 times per hour and can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Sleep apnea is most common in men and people who are overweight, but anyone can develop it. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that requires treatment and, if left untreated, can lead to other serious health problems.
Types Of Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the soft tissues of your throat relax, obstructing your airway. Your brain sends a signal to wake you up in order to reopen your airways, but this process is interrupted. This is generally caused by excess tissue, enlarged tonsils or tongue, or weak jaw muscles. The repeated cycles of waking and sleeping, interrupting your sleep, can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable, and unfocused during the day. OSA can also put your heart at risk. OSA is often treated with a CPAP machine, which delivers a continuous stream of air through your nose.
- Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. The brain may stop sending signals to the body to breathe for several seconds, causing oxygen levels to drop. CSA occurs as a result of neurological conditions, such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease, or as a symptom of other conditions, such as heart failure. CSA is treated in the same way as OSA.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea
Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for brief periods of time while sleeping. While it is normal for a person to have the occasional short pause in breathing while sleeping, sleep apnea is diagnosed when a person experiences multiple pauses in breathing in a period of 10 seconds or longer or experiences shallow breathing.
Some common symptoms of sleep apnea are:
- Pauses in breathing while sleeping.
- Waking up frequently throughout the night.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Frequent headaches.
- Mood swings.
- Memory problems.
- Morning headaches.
- Dry mouth.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- High blood pressure.
- Weight gain.
Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea
There are a few components to the diagnosis of sleep apnea that a sleep specialist will generally review. They will typically evaluate the patient’s medical history, perform a physical exam, run a sleep study (polysomnography), and review the results of that study.
Treatment of Sleep Apnea
OSA is typically treated with a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure), which provides pressure that keeps your airway open during sleep. Dental devices can also be considered to help open your airway.
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