Did you know that 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. It can be life-threatening, and it can lead to many serious health problems if left untreated. Here are five things you need to know about this sleep disorder.
1. Some people are more prone to developing sleep apnea than others. This condition can occur in both men and women, but is more common in men. Those who are more prone to developing sleep apnea are individuals who are overweight; who have a family history of sleep apnea; who have small airways in their noses, throats, or mouths; who are smokers; or who have diabetes or high blood pressure. The risk for developing this condition increases with age as well.
2. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. This type of sleep apnea is most common. The second type, central sleep apnea, occurs when the brain fails to prompt the muscles to breathe. Among other factors, whichever type you are diagnosed with will determine what treatment is best for you.
3. Losing weight can treat sleep apnea. Because obesity and sleep apnea are linked, weight loss is one way to help treat sleep apnea. The Huffington Post reports that three studies discovered that power walking could reduce sleep apnea by 25 percent. Some research actually shows that sleep apnea can make it more difficult to lose weight because of the way that the disorder affects the individual’s hormones. We’ve created a medically supervised weight loss program as a treatment for sleep apnea, designed to help our patients develop a healthier lifestyle.
4. Many people aren’t aware that they have periods of breathlessness during sleep. A few symptoms that can clue you into the condition include frequent nighttime bathroom visits, loud and constant snoring (something you’re aware of because of your partner’s constant reminders), restless sleep, excessive daytime fatigue, depression, morning headaches, and poor concentration. Of course, these symptoms could be contributed to other conditions as well. The best way to be sure that you have sleep apnea is to participate in a sleep study.
5. There are many different treatments for sleep apnea. One is our weight loss program that we mentioned previously. For some patients, dental appliances or a CPAP machine is the right course of action for treatment. It is important to note that these remedies are not a cure, but are effective in preventing sleep apnea from occurring. For others with more severe sleep apnea, surgery may be required. Visit our Surgical Solutions page to learn more. Because each patient is different, we take the time to evaluate each person’s needs to determine which method will best treat his or her sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can be scary, but our trusted team of medical professionals can help put your mind at ease. If you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, set up an appointment with a sleep specialist today.