Sleep Apnea is a common disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start while a person is sleeping. These breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Because of this, the brain, and the rest of your body, may not be getting enough oxygen. This could cause many issues, since the body requires adequate sleep and sufficient oxygen to function properly.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs at night while the person is sleeping, so most people won’t be aware of the symptoms right away. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea include:
- Snoring (which is typical of OSA, but uncommon with central)
- Observed pauses in breathing
- Extreme daytime sleepiness (also known as hypersomnia)
- Sore throat or dry mouth in the morning
- Shortness of breath causing the person to awaken abruptly
- Insomnia (difficulty staying asleep)
- Headaches upon awakening
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Most people who suffer from sleep apnea are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the airway is physically blocked off. This blockage usually occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea can affect anyone, but is more common in people who are overweight.
The less common type of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, occurs when the brain fails to send signals for your muscles to breathe. This causes extreme pauses between breaths that could last minutes. While central sleep apnea can occur in anyone, it’s more common in people who have certain medical conditions or use certain medicines.
The sleep apnea doctors at Northeast Georgia ENT will help determine the type of sleep apnea that is causing your symptoms and will work with you to develop a treatment plan.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Many people with sleep apnea often go undiagnosed. This is because doctors have a hard time detecting the disorder during a routine physical exam and there are currently no blood tests for the condition. For people who have obvious symptoms of sleep apnea, they may be referred to a sleep disorder center where they can be closely analyzed.
Sleep Apnea Side Effects
The treatment of sleep apnea is important as there can be consequences, including:
- Possibility of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) becomes more likely
- Higher risk for high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
- Increased risk of heart failure
- Higher chance of accidents, especially automobile related
In addition, untreated sleep apnea can cause sufferers to perform poorly in everyday activities, including school, work, driving capabilities and functioning all together.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one are struggling with sleep apnea, please contact us today to learn about our treatment options. We would love to help.