By: Lauri Leadley, CCSH, RPSGT- Clinical Sleep Educator|Sleep Coach
25 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. However, information and knowledge about this sleep disorder is still very limited among large sections of the general public.
Which is why most folks suffering from sleep apnea continue to be unaware of their condition.
What makes it worse, many people don’t even realize sleep apnea can be treated.
This is something we’ve encountered a lot of at Valley Sleep Therapy – patients who are unaware sleep apnea can be effectively treated by making certain lifestyle changes, through the use of highly effective oral devicesandpressurized air machines, or even through surgery.
The aim of this blog post is to answer six of the most commonly asked questions about sleep apnea. So, let’s get started…
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by the temporary collapse of the airways while an individual is sleeping. The movement of air in and out of the lungs is impacted due to the obstruction at the back of the throat.
An OSA episode can last anywhere between 10 seconds to more than a minute before the person wakes up and resumes normal breathing. Once the person falls back into sleep, they may suffer another OSA episode – this can happen in a cycle throughout the entire night.
Related Article – Are You at High Risk for Getting Sleep Apnea?
Why does this happen?
Several factors can lead to the airway collapsing, including the following:
- The tongue or other soft tissues fall back and obstructs the airway.
- In some people, OSA can occur when the muscles which hold the airway open become weak.
- Anatomical abnormalities such as a recessed jaw.
How do I know if I have Sleep Apnea?
Several easy-to-spot symptoms can warn you if you are suffering from sleep apnea. These include:
- Episodes of loud and irregular snoring which is followed by silent breathing pauses and gasping or choking sounds.
- Daytime fatigue or sleepiness.
- Poor quality sleep.
- Waking up with morning headaches.
- Leg cramping.
- Disrupted sleep often due to frequent bathroom breaks at night.
- Difficulty in focusing, irritability, and memory loss.
- Drop in sexual desire.
What will happen if sleep apnea is left untreated?
If you move beyond OSA being an irritant or annoyance, the risks associated with the condition could include the onset of depression, weight gain, developing cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, strokes, cardiac dysrhythmias, and even congestive heart failure.
Among seniors over the age of 70, it was found that sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea can double the risk of stroke.
What are the available treatment options for sleep apnea?
As I mentioned above, sleep apnea can be treated in several ways. What is critical is the need to first establish the cause of the condition, assess your medical history, and the severity of OSA. Based on these factors, treatment for OSA may include any one of the following:
- Making lifestyle changes.
- Using oral appliances.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy.
What is CPAP therapy?
CPAP is one of the most effective forms of treatment for OSA in 99.9% of cases. The CPAP device is a machine which applies a specific pressure to the airways and lungs to ensure the free movement of air in and out. The air pressure is provided via a mask worn on the mouth or over the nose.
If you suffer from OSA, it is crucial to seek proper medical treatment to prevent the condition from progressing and the associated medical health risks mentioned above.
A professional sleep coach will be able to accurately diagnose the triggers and any underlying causes for the occurrence of OSA. Once this is established, your sleep coach will recommend a treatment plan which works the best for you.
Valley Sleep Therapy – We Believe in Good Quality Sleep for All!
If you are looking for information about sleep devices and products or services for treating obstructive sleep apnea, we are here to help.