What Is Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Sleep Apnea And Snoring: The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
This is better explained below in the sleep apnea images
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea
When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. For example, small children may have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats, which can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which there are one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep.
Normally, without sleep apnea, your airway remains open. Your airway consists of your nose, mouth, throat and windpipe.
This allows the flow of air and oxygen into your lungs when you inhale and the flow of carbon dioxide out of your lungs when you exhale.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be mild to severe. Your airway may narrow or close completely.
When the airway collapses a little bit, the airway becomes partly blocked.
This makes it harder for air to pass into your lungs when you inhale. Any air that squeezes through the blockage may cause snoring.
At times, the airway may become completely blocked, where there is no airflow. This is called apnea.
With little or no air flowing to the lungs, there is a decrease in blood oxygen levels. This signals your brain to disrupt your sleep which helps you open the airway. Sometimes obstructed breathing ends with a gasp.
The normal breathing cycle continues until the next episode of obstruction. Episodes may last seconds to minutes, and recur 1 to 100 times per hour.
Untreated sleep apnea can:
- Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
- Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
- Make arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), or irregular heartbeats, more likely
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and/or breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.
Causes Of Sleep Apnea
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your airway can be blocked or narrowed during sleep because:
- Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
- Your tongue and tonsils (tissue masses in the back of your mouth) are large compared to the opening into your windpipe.
- You’re overweight. The extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe. This causes the inside opening to narrow, which makes it harder to keep open.
- The shape of your head and neck (bony structure) may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
- The aging process limits your brain signals’ ability to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep. This makes it more likely that the airway will narrow or collapse.
- Not enough air flows into your lungs if your airway is fully or partly blocked during sleep. This can cause loud snoring and a drop in your blood oxygen level.
If the oxygen drops to a dangerous level, it triggers your brain to disturb your sleep. This helps tighten the upper airway muscles and open your windpipe. Normal breaths then start again, often with a loud snort or choking sound.
Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
One of the most common signs of obstructive sleep apnea is loud and chronic (ongoing) snoring. Pauses may occur in the snoring. Choking or gasping may follow the pauses.
The snoring usually is loudest when you sleep on your back; it may be less noisy when you turn on your side. Snoring may not happen every night. Over time, the snoring may happen more often and get louder.
One common sign of sleep apnea is fighting sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving. You may find yourself rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day when you’re not active. Even if you don’t have daytime sleepiness, talk with your doctor if you have problems breathing during sleep.
Signs and Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
Others signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may include:
- Morning headaches
- Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
Urination at night
- A dry throat when you wake up
In children, sleep apnea can cause hyperactivity, poor school performance, and angry or hostile behavior. Children who have sleep apnea also may have unusual sleeping positions, bedwetting, and may breathe through their mouths instead of their noses during the day.
Lifestyle Changes; Dental Appliances For Sleep Apnea(Dental Device); If you have mild sleep apnea, some changes in daily activities or habits may be all the treatment you need. Mouthpieces, sometimes called an oral appliance, may help some people who have mild sleep apnea. Your doctor also may recommend a mouthpiece if you snore loudly but don’t have sleep apnea.
Oral appliances, sometimes called dental appliances, are intended to treat apnea by keeping the airway open in one of three ways: by pushing the lower jaw forward (a mandibular advancement device or MAD), by preventing the tongue from falling back over the airway (a tongue-retaining device), or by combining both mechanisms. Oral appliances are typically more effective for people with mild sleep apnea and for non-obese people but can, for some, be effective for moderate and severe sleep apnea. The most common type of oral appliance, a MAD is often adjustable so that the dentist can move the jaw further or reduce the advancement as necessary.
Pillows For Sleep Apnea; A number of companies have registered with the FDA pillows for snoring and mild sleep apnea; it is meant to position the neck so the airway is more likely to remain open. Positional alarms are also on the market: they are intended to prevent supine sleeping by making a noise when one begins to sleep on the back. However, they may disrupt sleep so much that the subsequent sleep fragmentation causes a concern.
Sleep Apnea Breathing Devices-CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and nose, or just over your nose. The machine gently blows air into your throat.
National Institute Of Health(NIH)
American Sleep Apnea Organization