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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea
Description

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person’s breathing is interrupted by events that stop (apnea) or reduce (hypopnea) breathing.  These events may occur over 100 times per night, depending on severity.  There are three types of sleep apnea.  Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common type, occurs when soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, while Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send the right signals for the person to breathe.  The last type, called Mixed sleep apnea, is a combination of the first two.

Key nighttime symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Snoring
  • Breathing cessations witnessed by bed partner
  • Gasping for air

Other sleep apnea symptoms and indicators include:

  • Morning dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Inadvertently falling asleep
  • Obesity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Memory and/or learning problems
  • Fatigue
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Diagnosis

In addition to the presence of the symptoms above, results from a sleep study—a test that records and measures your sleep—are required to confirm a sleep apnea diagnosis.

Treatment

The gold standard in sleep apnea treatment is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine, which delivers pressured air using a mask to the troubled airway, keeping it open.

Other alternatives include dental appliances and surgery.

Risks

Sleep apnea patients who do not treat their disorder increase their risk of:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Drowsy Driving
  • Obesity

Lifestyle Changes

 The following changes may help alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms:

  • Lose weight
  • Lay on your side instead of your back
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol
  • Treat allergies, colds, and sinus issues
  • Use an air humidifier
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • Raise your headboard
  • Gargle salt water