What is Sleep Apnea?

  • ad43emin
  • Nov 09, 2023

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. These pauses can last for a few seconds or up to a minute or more. There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the airway becomes blocked, preventing air from flowing freely to the lungs. This blockage can be caused by a variety of factors, such as excess fat in the throat, a large tongue, or structural abnormalities in the airway.
  2. Central sleep apnea (CSA): This type of sleep apnea is less common than OSA. It occurs when the brain does not send the signals to the muscles that control breathing. CSA can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, or brain tumors.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring
  • Loud gasping or choking sounds during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Frequent nighttime awakenings
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hyperactivity
  • Behavior problems

Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Untreated sleep apnea can have serious consequences for health, including:

  • Growth problems
  • Learning problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Increased risk of accidents

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is diagnosed by a sleep study. A sleep study is a test that records your breathing, heart rate, and other bodily functions during sleep. The sleep study will show whether you have sleep apnea and how severe it is.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

There are several treatments available for sleep apnea, including:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy: CPAP therapy is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP therapy uses a machine to deliver a steady stream of air through a mask that fits over the nose and mouth. The pressurized air helps to keep the airway open during sleep.
  • Oral appliance therapy: Oral appliance therapy involves wearing a device in the mouth that helps to keep the airway open during sleep. Oral appliance therapy is a good option for people who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy.
  • Weight loss: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help to improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be an option for people with severe sleep apnea that does not respond to other treatments.

Prevention of Sleep Apnea

There are a few things you can do to help prevent sleep apnea, including:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed
  • Quit smoking
  • Get regular exercise
  • Treat any underlying medical conditions

If you think you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to improve your sleep quality and reduce your risk of serious health problems.

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