Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can cause serious health problems. A person with sleep apnea will stop and start breathing repeatedly during sleep and snores loudly. Even though they have a full night sleep, they will still experience tiredness during day time. Though sleep apnea is common for anyone, it is mostly seen in old age people who are overweight.
If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can lead to blood pressure and heart diseases. If you or your loved one is suspected to have sleep apnea, it is advised to seek medical attention at the earliest.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
The first signs of sleep apnea are not noticed by the patient, but will be noticed by the person sleeping beside you. The common signs include:
- Loud snoring
- Stops and starts breathing during sleep
- Tiredness or sleepiness during daytime
- Waking up frequently at night for urination
- Dry mouth after waking up
- Trouble in concentrating
- Depression and anxiety
- Sweating during night
- Erectile dysfunction
Different Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three main types of sleep apnea namely:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): It is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the throat muscles relax while sleeping and obstruct the flow of air from and to the nose and mouth. It causes loud snoring and can even reduce the flow of oxygen to other organs.
- Central sleep apnea: Central sleep is connected to the central nervous system. Central sleep apnea can be a result of some underlying health conditions.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome: It is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, visit a doctor immediately. This helps to relieve your symptoms and prevent other health complications.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep. As the throat muscles relax, the airway gets narrowed when you breathe and you cannot get enough air. This can further reduce oxygen levels in your blood. Your brain identifies this problem and awakens you so that you can open the airway. You might gasp or choke several times at night which can affect your quality of sleep.
Central sleep apnea is common in patients with central nervous system problems and neuromuscular diseases. It occurs when the brain fails to send signals to your breath muscles to breathe. This causes shortness of breath and you might find it difficult to sleep.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
When you visit a doctor for a sleep apnea diagnosis, he will ask about your signs, symptoms, medical history and will conduct a sleep study. The doctor will refer to a sleep specialist who will evaluate your breathing episodes while you are asleep. Tests can also be conducted to detect sleep apnea such as polysomnogram, home sleep tests, multiple sleep latency test, etc.
If the test results are not normal, your doctor will suggest therapy. If the doctor determines that you have OSA, he will recommend to an ENT doctor to look for any blockages in your nose or throat. For central apnea, a cardiologist or a neurologist will be referred to determine the cause.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
If the sleep apnea is mild, the doctor suggests lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, drinking etc. If you have nasal problems, your doctor will suggest the use of nasal sprays, breathing strips to improve airflow at night.
If the initial treatments do not work, the doctor suggests Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy where you have to wear a mask on your nose or mouth. An air blower will be used to blow air into your nose or mouth and this prevents your sleep disturbances.
If the above treatments do not work, surgery might be performed. Before considering surgery, it is suggested to try other treatment options for at least 3 months. Surgical options include jaw repositioning, tissue removal, shrinking of tissue, nerve stimulation, and implants.
Suspecting Sleep Apnea? Meet Dr Soujanya at Klavo Clinic
Dr Soujanya has been helping patients suffering from sleep apnea for several years in Hyderabad. She performs a careful evaluation to determine that you have sleep apnea. If required, she will refer to other doctors as well. To get a proper diagnosis and treatment, meet Dr Soujanya today and explain your condition.