Posted .

Did you know that sleep apnea is actually one of the most common sleep disorders today, affecting about 20 million Americans alone? Sleep apnea is a condition where you experience frequent pauses in breathing while you sleep. It’s also one of the most undiagnosed conditions, which can be a problem as it is also a potentially serious disorder and can cause other health issues.

There are three kinds of sleep apnea that can affect you, the most common being obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, which causes 85% of sleep apnea disorders, your breathing is paused when the throat muscles relax, and the tongue collapses into the upper airway, blocking your air intake.

Another cause of sleep apnea is known as central sleep apnea (CSA), which happens when your brain fails to send out signals to the breathing muscles in the respiratory system that tells them to breathe. Even so, less than 1 percent of sleep apnea cases arise from CSA. The third kind of sleep apnea is complex sleep apnea syndrome, which is a combination of the first two.

Signs and Symptoms

– You wake up with a dry or sore throat
– Your partner complains about your loud snoring
– You sometimes wake yourself up with a choking or gasping feeling
– You feel sleepy or have little energy during your day
– Your daytime drowsiness interferes with your driving or work
– You wake up with headaches
– Your sleep is restless
– You are overweight or obese
– You have high blood pressure/hypertension
– You have mood swings, a tendency to forget things or a diminished libido
– You wake up constantly or experience insomnia

These breathing pauses can occur from 5 to 30 times an hour and last up to 10-20 seconds each time. If you have severe obstructive sleep apnea, you may have hundreds of these events throughout the night. You can imagine how disruptive this condition can be as you aren’t just missing out on a good night’s sleep, but your body is suffering. Even if you’ve been giving yourself 7-9 hours of sleep at night, the quality of sleep is lacking, and your health will eventually pay the price.

Feeling overwhelming fatigue throughout the day from excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) can severely interfere with your day-to-day functioning. Indications of EDS include the following:

– Having trouble waking up
– Needing naps to get through the day
– Dozing off when eating, talking or driving

This can also leave you feeling anxious or irritable, hindering your focus and concentration.

Risk Factors

Factors that can place you at higher risk for sleep apnea include being overweight or obese. The excess fatty tissues in the neck and throat areas can narrow your airways and restrict airflow. Aging is another culprit as your throat muscles lose their tone and weaken. Having adenoids, enlarged tonsils or a family history of a narrow throat or enlarged tongue can also contribute. Habits may also play a role, including smoking, drinking or taking opioid medications. Alcohol can over-relax the throat muscles, so they block your airway when you sleep. Smoking can inflame the tissues in the throat, esophagus and lungs, leading to fluid retention that can interfere with your airflow.

If you suspect you may have a sleep disorder or would like a consultation with our team, please give us a call. Let us help you get your health and sleep quality back on track!