Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when someone’s breathing is interrupted while they are sleeping. Untreated sleep apnea causes patients to stop breathing repeatedly while they are sleeping, which can affect the amount of oxygen the brain and the rest of your body gets.
Individuals with sleep apnea have a higher risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, metabolic syndrome, and other conditions.
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, or know you have sleep apnea and are looking for treatment options, please request an appointment.
In addition to stopping breathing while sleeping, which would be reported to you by another person, symptoms of sleep apnea also include:
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and a combination of both called complex sleep apnea syndrome.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the muscles at the back of your throat relax. Your throat muscles are responsible for supporting your soft palate, your uvula, your tonsils, your tongue, and the sidewalls of your throat.
When these muscles relax, it causes your airways to narrow or even close completely as you breathe in, restricting or disrupting the flow of oxygen and lowering your blood oxygen levels. When the brain senses that you are not breathing it briefly wakes you up so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is so brief that most patients don’t remember it.
When you awaken, you may gasp, snort, or choke. This may happen between five and thirty times each hour while you are sleeping, disrupting your sleep patterns and preventing you from getting a deep, restful sleep.
Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea and occurs when communication between your brain and your breathing muscles breaks down. This lack of communication means that your body makes no effort to continue breathing for short periods. Patients with central sleep apnea may find they are short of breath when they awaken or have trouble falling or staying asleep.
There are a variety of factors that can increase your chances of developing either obstructive sleep apnea or central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea risk factors include:
Central sleep apnea risk factors include:
Though there is no cure for sleep apnea, this condition can be managed, and its symptoms can be eased. For more information about sleep apnea treatments, or to request an appointment, please contact us.
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