Snoring is a common habit and presumed by most people to be relatively harmless. While snoring can be benign, it is also a huge red-flag for a serious medical condition called Sleep Apnea. Several types of sleep apnea exist, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition is characterized by constant pauses in breathing while a patient is asleep. Anyone can develop sleep apnea, and serious health problems can arise if OSA is left untreated. Dr. Nugent and his Pasadena Texas team want to provide you with cutting edge help as soon as possible to lessen the disastrous medical effects of sleep apnea.
Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It is silly to state, but breathing is very important. It is vital for life. It important for patients to be able to breathe regularly and consistently while sleeping. During sleep the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended. In OSA the tongue and neck muscles relax too much. The airway can become partially or fully blocked causing obstructive sleep apnea. Next, blood oxygen saturation levels are lowered to such a dangerous degree that your brain sends out an emergency signal, urging you to wake up and readjust your airway to allow proper flow once more. This awakening / arousal is generally so brief that patients do not know they are not getting a full nights sleep. Unfortunately, these pauses can occur up to hundreds of times each night, disturbing your most restful phases. Patients do not get the rejuvenating and restful sleep. Plus, critically low oxygen levels in the body play havoc on cellular function.
Common Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
- Being overweight
- Having a large neck
- The presence of high blood pressure
- Having a naturally small throat/airway
- Being male
- Routine smoking and/or alcohol use
- Being between the ages of 18-60
- Experiencing consistent chronic nasal congestion at night
- Having a family history of sleep apnea
Common Symptoms for Sleep Apnea
- Pauses in breathing, sudden choking, or gasping when sleeping
- Issues with memory and/or concentration
- Excessive daytime exhaustion, no matter how many hours you slept the night before
- Dry mouth and/or sore throat in the mornings
- Headaches in the morning
- Chest pain in the morning
Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Cardiovascular concerns – Significant drops in your oxygen levels can increase your blood pressure and have dreadful effects on your heart. In fact, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes are all more common.
Diabetes – There is scientific evidence that a lack of sleep could cause patients to achieve a pre-diabetic state. These conditions also connect backwards, as the presence of diabetes can contribute to sleep loss.
Higher risk of car accidents – The lack of restful sleep caused by sleep apnea can lead to serious problems with concentration and fatigue, even causing patients to fall asleep behind the wheel.
Problems involving medication and surgery – Certain medications may worsen obstructive sleep apnea, and complications following surgery can be more common.
Erectile Dysfunction – Studies have shown that the presence of sleep apnea may increase the likelihood of male patients experiencing erectile dysfunction.
Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? Contact our Pasadena, Texas Apnea Office today for the support and skilled assistance you need most. Dr. Nugent can provide either oral appliance therapy or combined therapy to effectively combat sleep apnea, depending on your unique needs and preferences.