Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you fall asleep watching television? Have you ever nodded off while driving? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 22 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops intermittently during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. The cause for the breathing stoppage is that the tongue and soft tissue of the neck occlude the airway.
Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the critically low level of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to resume normal breathing. Because the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don’t remember it. Thus, even patients who think they are gong to bed early to get a good night’s sleep are not getting the rejuvenating qualities of sleep. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving proper deep sleep, resulting in a persistent drowsy feeling during the day.
What are the signs of Sleep Apnea?
The following symptoms can indicate the occurrence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our Pasadena Texas Sleep Practice.
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Poor memory / concentration
- Diminished performance
- High blood pressure
- Stomach acid regurgitation
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
Are there different types of sleep apnea?
There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat.
Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the brain fails to send the proper neurological signals to the muscled to breath.
What are risk factors for sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males than females, and more common in adults age 40 and obese people.
However, anyone — regardless of gender, age or weight — can suffer from sleep apnea. Other risk factors include drinking, smoking, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, strokes, neuromuscular disorders, or brain tumors.
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Patients with severe sleep apnea have a much higher mortality risk than people without sleep apnea, and this risk increases when sleep apnea is untreated. Sleep apnea has major health problems. High blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes play a role in the association between sleep apnea and mortality. Furthermore, the constant state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatments for sleep can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. For more severe cases, Dr. Nugent can create a mandibular advancement device that brings the lower jaw downward and forward. This movement opens up the airway to prevent collapse.
What should I do if I suspect that I or someone in my family suffers from sleep apnea?
Contact our practice at 832-487-0647 or come 3421 Burke Rd #1, Pasadena Texas. Come see how our sleep apnea office can help make positive changes in the prevention of sleep apnea.