Defining the Issue
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in an obstruction in your airway, causing breathing to stop while you’re sleeping. These pauses in breath, also known as episodes, can last from several seconds to over a minute, and they can occur as frequently as 30 times an hour.
Every time an episode happens, your blood oxygen levels decrease, which triggers the brain to wake up and restart breathing. Sleep apnea can make you tired, drowsy, and irritated — it’s also been linked to a variety of serious health consequences.
Who’s Affected by Sleep Apnea?
It’s estimated that more than 18 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea. There likely are more, but unfortunately, this sleep disorder often goes undiagnosed.
Sleep apnea is prevalent in children as well, although it’s more difficult to detect. The prevalence of the disorder in children is between 1 percent and 10 percent. A significant hurdle for identifying the disorder in children occurs because it’s commonly misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Furthermore, you could be affected by sleep apnea without developing the disorder. If you’re in a relationship with someone who snores or suffers from sleep apnea, you could experience an array of symptoms, including irritability, weight gain, and decreased libido.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea, all of which require professional assistance.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This is the most common form of the disorder, and it occurs when the tongue or soft tissue in the throat collapses, obstructing your airway. OSA can develop in people of all ages and sizes. However, it’s most frequently noticed in men over the age of 40, especially those who are obese or overweight.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
This version of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to activate the muscles that are required for breathing. Unlike OSA, central sleep apnea is neurological, meaning there’s no physical obstruction preventing airflow. To treat CSA, you’ll need specialized care from a neurologist.
Complex/Mixed Sleep Apnea
Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the other two types — OSA and CSA. Not only is there an obstruction in the patient’s airway, but they also experience nerve disconnection, preventing the brain from sending signals to the muscles to keep breathing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Causes Airway Obstruction?
There are various reasons for an obstructed airway. In fact, some of them may simply be out of your control. Factors such as obesity and a genetic difference such as an enlarged neck can cause an obstruction which results in sleep apnea. An individual who lives with obesity often develops sleep apnea due to enlarged tissues in the throat or mouth.
What Increases Your Risk of OSA?
While some risks that increase your chances of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be genetic such as a narrow airway, family history, diabetes, and high blood pressure, others may come as a result of unhealthy habits. These habits include the constant use of tobacco and alcohol as well as poor weight management and lack of exercise.
Does My Snoring Mean I Have Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is not always an indicator of an existing sleep disorder. While it is a symptom that often develops in patients with sleep apnea, snoring can occur as a result of various conditions such as your sleep position, age, medication you’re taking, lack of sleep, or even alcohol consumption before bed. Consulting a sleep specialist about your snoring can help answer your questions or concerns and get you the right treatment to alleviate symptoms.
Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed or you need help finding the proper professional help, Dr. Iregui has advice. Sleep apnea is a severe condition that can create an assortment of health complications if it’s not treated correctly.
At SoundBridge Dental Arts & Sleep Therapy, we can help restore your sleep no matter where you are on your sleep apnea journey. Give us a call at 253-204-2643 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Iregui. Alternatively, you can fill out the submission form below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.