Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and can occur multiple times throughout the night, disrupting the normal sleep cycle.
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud, chronic snoring. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone with sleep apnea snores. Other symptoms of sleep apnea may include:
- Pauses in breathing during sleep, which may be noticed by a bed partner
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up with a headache
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up
- Mood changes, such as irritability or depression
- Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness
- Decreased libido or sexual dysfunction
- High blood pressure
It's important to note that some people with sleep apnea may not experience any symptoms, or they may attribute their symptoms to other causes, such as stress or aging. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, it's important to talk to a healthcare provider for evaluation and diagnosis. Sleep apnea can have serious health consequences if left untreated.
Three types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA):
This is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when the airway is partially or completely blocked, usually by the relaxation of throat muscles. This leads to a decrease in oxygen levels in the body, which can trigger the brain to wake the person up to resume breathing.
Central sleep apnea (CSA):
This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles that control breathing, causing pauses in breathing.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome (CompSA):
Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this is a combination of OSA and CSA, where the airway is blocked, but the brain is not sending the appropriate signals to resume breathing.
Sleep apnea can lead to a variety of health problems, including daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression. It is typically diagnosed through a sleep study, and treatment options may include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, avoiding alcohol and smoking, or the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, surgery, or oral appliances.
OSA stands for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is a type of sleep apnea that occurs when the airway is partially or completely blocked during sleep. This obstruction is usually caused by the relaxation of the muscles in the throat, which can lead to a narrowing or complete closure of the airway.
As a result, the body is unable to get enough oxygen, and the brain signals the body to wake up briefly to reopen the airway, often with a loud snort or gasp. These interruptions in breathing can happen many times per hour and can prevent a person from getting the restful, restorative sleep they need.
OSA is a common sleep disorder, affecting an estimated 25 million adults in the US alone. It can lead to a variety of health problems, including daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression. Treatment options for OSA may include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and avoiding alcohol and smoking, or the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, surgery, or oral appliances. It is typically diagnosed through a sleep study.
OSA is typically diagnosed through a sleep study, which is also known as a polysomnography. During a sleep study, a person spends the night at a sleep center or clinic, where their sleep is monitored and recorded by trained sleep technologists.