Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for everyone, but unfortunately, 5 to 10% of people globally experience sleep apnea, which disrupts their sleep cycle and affects their overall lifestyle.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person’s breathing stops and starts multiple times in the night. As a result of the lack of oxygen, people with sleep apnea frequently wake up and experience a variety of symptoms such as feeling tired even after sleeping.
Luckily, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, sleep apnea management is possible and can prevent further complications. Below, we provide everything you need to know about this condition.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three primary types of sleep apnea:
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) – improperly sent signals from the brain that affect the muscles used for breathing.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – throat muscles relax and obstruct the flow of air in the lungs.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome – also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea; a condition that develops during OSA therapy, which turns a person’s sleep apnea type from OSA to CSA.
Although this condition is prevalent and can happen to anyone at any age, it is still considered uncommon. People are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea as they get older or put on excess weight.
Central sleep apnea is more common in people who take opioid medications and people with heart conditions such as congestive heart failure.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea has many symptoms, some occurring at night, while others are more likely to occur in the daytime. Some of these symptoms are:
- Pauses in breathing while sleeping, which other people, such as family members or partners, may notice.
- Unusual breathing patterns such as gasping for air when asleep, snoring, and Cheyne-Stokes breathing, where a person has fast breathing, which then turns shallower and fully stops.
- Insomnia and night sweats
- Excessive daytime exhaustion or sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Mood changes such as irritability even after sleeping 8 hours
Sleep apnea symptoms and effects are also based on the condition’s severity per individual case. The apnea/hypopnea index or AHI is used to determine whether a person’s sleep apnea is mild, moderate, or severe.
The index counts the times the person’s sleeping cycle is interrupted by sleep apnea. For example, people with mild sleep apnea have 5 to 15 apnea events in an hour.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Your healthcare provider will start by asking questions about your sleeping and lifestyle habits to determine whether you have sleep apnea. They will perform physical exams and conduct sleep studies, including an overnight sleep study or a polysomnogram.
This test monitors your bodily functions, like your heart rate and brain wave monitoring, as you stay overnight in a sleep lab. Home sleep apnea testing is another testing option with similar but less comprehensive results.
While there are many approaches to treating sleep apnea, your healthcare provider will likely start with conservative treatments such as sleeping aid items, including support pillows and nasal sprays to help clear the nasal canals.
Medications promoting sleep and respiratory stimulation are also available upon your physician’s recommendation. Changes to your current medication or steps towards weight loss and treating underlying conditions can also significantly manage your sleep apnea.
Other instruments, such as nerve stimulators in the mouth and oral devices like customized mouthpieces, can help hold your jaw and support your airways. Methods like positive airway pressure (PAP) and adaptive ventilation use a specialized device like a CPAP machine to increase the air pressure in your mouth while asleep, which can also be explored to manage sleep apnea.
Tips to Preventing Sleep Apnea
In some cases, sleep apnea is a preventable condition. Healthy lifestyle habits such as maintaining a healthy weight and practicing good sleep hygiene can reduce your risk of sleep apnea. Managing pre-existing health conditions like high blood pressure can also help prevent sleep apnea.
However, individuals with structural issues in their nose, throat, or windpipe are more likely to develop sleep apnea. Having regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help you get an early diagnosis of sleep apnea and help you get started with treatment right away.
Sleeping Doctors in Sparks, Nevada
If you’re experiencing sleep apnea, it’s important to seek medical help promptly. This condition can impact your daily life and even lead to severe complications, such as heart damage and failure. You should speak with your healthcare provider to obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for managing sleep apnea as soon as possible.
At MelioREM, we want to help you on your journey to getting optimal sleep. Our high-quality healthcare services have helped those with sleeping problems and conditions living all over the Northern Nevada area.
Our personalized approach and thorough diagnostic tests exemplify our commitment to compassionate healthcare. Our dedicated physicians and staff work closely with our patients to help solve their sleeping problems, including sleep apnea and many more sleep conditions. We also offer telehealth services, so you can get the healthcare you need at any place.
If you or a loved one has questions about sleep conditions, including sleep apnea, our friendly staff can be reached at (775) 557-4900. You can also schedule an appointment through our convenient appointment request form.