Less than 10% of adults have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, yet it’s been estimated that 25% of adults suffer from the condition.
Sleep apnea is considered a potentially risky sleep disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing when sleeping. The term “sleep apnea” comes from Greek etymology meaning ‘without breath.’
The breathing pauses can endure anywhere from several seconds to a minute or longer, and occur as often as 30 times or more in one hour. The persistent disrupted breathing results in an imbalance between the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream. Detecting this imbalance, the brain sends a message to the body, informing it to wake up to resume the process of breathing.
Persons with sleep apnea will momentarily awaken as they fight to breathe, and this is usually accompanied by choking sensations or loud snoring. Since people with sleep apnea do not become fully awake during the episodes, they’re usually unaware they have a sleeping disorder. The longer it goes undiagnosed, the greater the risk that it will lead to serious life-threatening health conditions like a heart attack heart or diabetes.
3 Types of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common kind of sleep apnea. It takes place when soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and obstructs the airway, usually causing you to snore very loudly. Common signs of the Obstructive Sleep Apnea may include daytime sleepiness, early morning headaches and insomnia.
Central Sleep Apnea is less prevalent than OSA. It occurs as a result of a malfunction of the central nervous system, from where it derives its name. In this condition, the cessation of breathing occurs when the brain fails to send important breathing signals to the breathing muscles. Oxygen drops to dangerously low levels and the brain responds by rousing the patient from deep sleep, often gasping for air. Snoring is seldom a side-effect of Central Sleep Apnea. The condition is often observed in patients with the central nervous system dysfunction, like those who have suffered a stroke or neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Complex or Mixed Sleep Apnea refers to combination of Central Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. With this condition, the brain fails to signal the chest to breathe and when the diaphragm suddenly starts moving, the airway is obstructed. It is not uncommon to experience all three types of apnea in a single night.
Persons with sleep apnea may complain of extreme daytime sleepiness usually with restlessness or irritability. But it’s commonly the bed partner, friends or family who identify the symptoms first. Affected person may experience some of the following:
1) Extremely loud, heavy snoring, usually continuous by gasps and pauses.
2) Short temper, irritability.
3) Reduced interest in sex.
4) Excessive daytime sleepiness, like falling asleep at while driving, work, when watching TV or during the conversation. (This shouldn’t be confused with extreme tiredness with which each one of us suffer from regularly).
5) Morning headaches.
6) Changes in behavior or mood.
8) Depression or anxiety.
There are many forms of treatment for sleep apnea. For many decades, the CPAp was the gold standard (pictured to the right). A CPAP machine sends air pressure through a hose into a nasal mask. However, many CPAP has a high rate of failure due to non-compliance and side effects such as headaches and runny noses. In 2006 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine included oral appliance devices for use in treating moderate to mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Their success has been validated by numerous studies and they are now often a first line of treatment for sleep apnea.
To find out what form of treatment is best for you, contact the Kentuckiana Dental Sleep Group today.