Sleep apnea can be a very serious sleep disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops throughout the night. There are several types of sleep apnea that can cause different outcomes:
- Obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe.
- Central sleep apnea is when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
How do you know if you have sleep apnea?
There are many symptoms associated with the different types of sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- A morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, you should see a doctor.
Ask your doctor about any sleep problem that leaves you fatigued, sleepy and irritable. For people with sleep apnea, the combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation may lead to hypertension, heart disease, mood and memory problems. Studies revealed 83% of patients with Drug-Resistant Hypertension have sleep apnea.
The treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth and gently blows air into the airway to help keep it open during sleep. This method of treatment is highly effective.
If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, the first thing to do is see your doctor. Bring with you a record of your sleep, fatigue levels throughout the day, and any other symptoms you might be having. Ask your partner if he or she notices that you snore heavily, choke, gasp, or stop breathing during sleep; be sure to take an updated list of medications. Come see us today at the ENT Institute if you are having any of these symptoms, we are here to HELP you sleep better!