Sleep Apnea

Do you feel tired and sleepy during the day and have no explanation for it? Do you snore loudly? Do you wake up panting in the night? If yes, then you are suffering from sleep apnea.

A condition in which your breathing stops 20-30 times per hour is known as sleep apnea. It happens periodically during sleep. Each time your breathing stops, lack of oxygen alerts your brain that it needs more oxygen. You temporarily wake up to restart proper breathing. Most people with sleep apnea don’t remember waking up at night as the time they spent while awake is short-term and thus, are led to a false belief that they are getting a good sleep at night. The tiredness and sleepiness that you feel during the day is the result of the constant wake-sleep cycle that prevents you from achieving deep sleep.

Signs of sleep apnea

If you notice one or more of these following symptoms then immediately contact our practice as you might be suffering from sleep apnea.

  • Insomnia or difficulty in sleeping
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Waking up at night due to short of breath
  • Snorting or choking sounds during the night (it indicates a restart of breathing)
  • Headaches upon waking in the morning
  • Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
  • Extreme drowsiness throughout the day

Sleep apnea can be categorized into three parts. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common and arises due to a physical blockage, generally the collapsing of the soft tissue present in the back of the throat. The second one is central sleep apnea (CSA). In this, the breathing stops because proper signals from the brain are not received by the muscles involved. The third type is “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a blend of obstructive and central.

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males and older adults (40+) as compared to others. However, anyone can suffer from sleep apnea, regardless of the age and gender. Other risk factors comprise obesity, drinking, smoking, use of tranquilizers or sedatives, and even family history. People with neuromuscular disorders, heart disorders, strokes, or brain tumours have higher chances of suffering from central sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical problem and if not treated, can lead to high blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. Sleep apnea causes fatigue which can lead to problems at work and possess a danger when operating heavy machinery or while driving. So, if you are suffering from sleep apnea, discuss with your family doctor before taking any medication or having a surgery. Sedation by anesthesia can be risky.

Sleep apnea’s treatment depend on the type of apnea and how severe the case is. Basic treatments involve – stop smoking, lose weight, and sleep on your sides instead of sleeping on your backs. The position of the mouth can be adjusted using oral devices, such that it prevents throat blockage. If the case is more severe, surgery may be the only option.

In this case, immediately contact our practice. We will refer you to a specialist of sleep apnea. To identify the exact level of the problem, he may recommend a sleep study. It will also help him to prescribe suitable treatment. If the treatment involves an oral device, we can custom-create it for you.