One of the most common sleep-related breathing disorders is obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea causes you to stop and start breathing involuntarily for brief periods of time during sleep.
What Happens In Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
During normal sleep, air will flow smoothly from the mouth and nose into the lungs without issue. Obstructive sleep apnea is when there are periods of time when breathing stops – these are called apnea or apneic episodes. In OSA, affected patients’ airflow will stop repeatedly throughout the night.
Most commonly, the flow of air is halted because the space for the airway in the throat is too narrow. Sufferers of OSA often snore – snoring is caused by this airflow squeezing through the narrow space in the throat.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a number of different complications and health conditions including hypertension, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
What Are the Symptoms?
There are a number of different symptoms of sleep apnea. Oftentimes, the early signs of OSA are not recognized by the patient, but instead, by their bed partner. This is usually due to snoring and restlessness during the night. In some cases, patients may experience sudden awakenings with a gasping or choking sensation, sore throat or dry mouth when waking up.
As sleep apnea decreases oxygen supply to the brain and other parts of the body during sleep, sufferers sleep quality goes down. This can cause drowsiness during the day, brain fog and a general feeling of tiredness or exhaustion. Other symptoms include headaches, irritability, forgetfulness, drowsiness, depression and/or interference in performance at work or school.
How is OSA Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of sleep apnea starts with a consultation and examination of your health and history. Your doctor will look for clues including a history of daytime drowsiness and snoring when you sleep. Your doctor may also examine your head and neck to check for physical factors that are commonly associated with OSA.
How is OSA Treated?
A common therapy for patients with OSA is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). This is a therapy that uses a machine to provide a constant flow of pressurized air to maintain an open airway. A mask is strapped to the face and pushes air into the throat to keep your airways open.
Although effective, not all patients are satisfied with this treatment. CPAP machines can be noisy and cause dryness in the nose or throat, and some patients are uncomfortable wearing a mask at night.
An alternative to a CPAP machine is an oral appliance. This is a mouthpiece that is specially designed to fit over your teeth. This device is custom designed to gently and comfortably align the jaw and tongue, ensuring an open airway and allowing normal airflow to the lungs as you sleep.
Let Marx Sleep Center Help You Get the Rest You Need.
Contact our office today to schedule a free sleep consultation. Our sleep center was created to help those suffering from sleep disorders so that they can live fulfilling lives.