Sleep apnea is a medical disorder that affects a patient’s sleeping
patterns. In some cases, sleep apnea can be very dangerous. Simply put,
sleep apnea is when an individual’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly
while he / she is sleeping.
There are several different types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome
- Central sleep apnea
Over 200,000 cases of sleep apnea are diagnosed every year in the United
States. Both children and adults can suffer from this sleep disorder.
You may have questions about sleep apnea and whether or not you have it.
This page contains information about sleep apnea, including signs, symptoms,
risks, and options for treatment.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
These are some of the most common symptoms or signs associated with sleep apnea:
Snoring –Snoring is caused by vibrations that occur when there is a blockage
in the upper respiratory airways. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea,
particularly if it occurs every night.
Irritability / mood changes – Studies continue to prove the correlation between mood and sleep.
If you are not getting enough sleep, your mood is affected. You could
be experiencing mood swings, anxiety, irritability / anger, and even depression
as a result of the interruptions to your sleep schedule caused by sleep
apnea. It’s worth speaking with a doctor if you believe your result
changes in mood or behavior could be linked to a sleep disorder.
Inability to pay attention – If you struggle to pay attention / focus during the day, this could
be a sign of a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
High blood pressure – Hypertension is a frequent result of sleep apnea, since interrupted
breathing leads to lower oxygen levels in your brain, which causes your
blood vessels to restrict in order to stimulate your system into working
as before. Over time, your body could cause this to occur by default,
leading to high blood pressure / hypertension.
Morning headaches – If you frequently wake up with headaches, it could be due to the
fact that sleep apnea decreases the level of oxygen in your brain, causing
widening blood vessels.
Interrupted breathing – As an individual with sleep apnea sleeps, fatty tissues in the
tongue / throat may relax, falling into the way of his / her air paths
and restricting their breathing. This can lead it intermittent interruptions
in breathing. While you may not be able to identify this symptom, someone
else could bring it to your attention.
Chronic fatigue / exhaustion – Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) or hypersomnia is a common
sign of sleep apnea. Even if you do not fully wake up when your body pauses
breathing, your quality of sleep could suffer. This could lead to you
feeling constantly tired and unrested.
Obesity – One of the major causes of sleep apnea is being obese / overweight.
As previously mentioned, sleep apnea can occur when fatty tissues in the
neck / throat relax during sleep and restrict a patient’s breathing.
If you are overweight, sleep apnea could be a side effect. Men with neck
circumferences of over 17 inches, or women with neck circumferences of
over 16 inches, are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
Risks Associated with Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious condition. If your body doesn’t receive
enough oxygen while you sleep, the potential results can be extremely
dangerous. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea are at a higher risk
for a host of conditions, including high blood pressure / hypertension,
stroke, diabetes, depression, and heart disease.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea is dangerous and can disrupt your life in many ways. Fortunately,
there is help. Sleep apnea is a manageable condition.
Options for treatment include:
- Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP)
- Oral appliance therapy
- Surgical remedies
Many people with sleep apnea have not been diagnosed. It’s important
to seek medical help if you suspect that you may have sleep apnea. A doctor
can order a series of specialized tests in a sleep lab to find out if
you suffer from any sleep disorders. From there, you can begin a path
toward treatment and a better night sleep! Our team at Anaheim Regional
Medical Center can help, contact us today to learn more.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter
you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.