Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. It affects millions of Americans, yet many are unaware of the disorder, its symptoms, and the potential long-term health risks.
Sleep apnea is divided into two main types: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). OSA is the most common type and occurs when the upper airway collapses during sleep, blocking the flow of air to the lungs. CSA is less common and is caused by the brain’s failure to send signals to the muscles that control breathing.
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, pauses in breathing, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms can include waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes. People with sleep apnea may also experience insomnia, which is difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a variety of long-term health risks. These include an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. It can also cause or worsen depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Sleep apnea can also increase your risk of traffic accidents and work-related accidents due to sleepiness and impaired concentration.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, it is important to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will likely refer you to a sleep specialist for a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for sleep apnea can include lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, losing weight, and sleeping on your side. For more severe cases, your doctor may recommend using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This device works by delivering pressurized air to keep the airway open while you sleep.
To help prevent sleep apnea, it is important to get enough sleep and practice good sleep hygiene. This means avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed, as well as avoiding screens and other forms of stimulation. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of sleep apnea.
If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, speak to your doctor or a sleep specialist and get the help you need. With proper treatment, you can get a better night’s sleep and reduce your risk of long-term health risks.
Our office specializes in treating individuals who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. To schedule a consultation to learn more about our treatment options for sleep apnea, please contact our office today.