Sleep Apnea: A Serious Health Condition
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects approximately 22 million Americans. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious and life-threatening health problems, including:
- high blood pressure,
- chronic heart failure,
- atrial fibrillation,
- stroke, and other cardiovascular problems;
- type 2 diabetes; and
People who suffer from sleep apnea are accident prone because of the persistent drowsiness they feel due to lack of sleep. Many traffic accidents and accidents with heavy machinery are caused by people with sleep apnea.
Types of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that disrupts normal healthy breathing patterns while you are asleep. It can often go undetected because it only happens while you are sleeping. There are three kinds of sleep apnea: 1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the tongue collapses against the soft palate and the soft palate collapses against the back of the throat during sleep, and the airway is closed. Obesity is linked to OSA due to fatty tissue obstruction of the airways. 2. Central Sleep Apnea is less common than Obstructive Sleep Apnea, It causes your breathing to stop and start while sleeping and occurs when the brain does not transmit signals to the breathing muscles. 3. Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea. Atrial fibrillation, family history of complex/central sleep apnea, heart failure, male gender, renal failure, and stroke are factors that are associated with complex sleep apnea.
Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
People most at risk for developing Obstructive Sleep Apnea are: 1. Overweight. Fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing. 2. Male. Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than women. 3. Older. Sleep apnea occurs more frequently in older adults. 4. Smokers. Smoking can increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway, thereby constricting one’s ability to breathe freely. Other OSA risk factors include: 1. Large neck circumference. 2. Family history. Having family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk. 3. Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers that relax the muscles in your throat and can worsen obstructive sleep apnea. 4. Nasal congestion.
Risk Factors for Central Sleep Apnea
People most at risk for developing Central Sleep Apnea are: 1. Middle-aged or older. 2. Male. 3. Experiencing heart disorders. 4. Using narcotic pain medications. 5. People who have had a stroke.
When To See A Doctor
If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling refreshed when you wake up, a consulting with a trained sleep doctor or sleep specialist can determine whether you have sleep apnea or another kind of sleep disorder that requires treatment. Dr. Konrad Bakker, M.D. and Sarah E. Jamieson, PA-C, will listen to you carefully, run the appropriate diagnostic tests for your symptoms, and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you get the sleep and rest you need to restore your health and happiness.