Are you groggy during the day? Does your partner tell you that you snore loudly? Do you often feel fatigued during the day? You may have Sleep Apnea, a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder in which the oral airway collapses during sleep. This stops and person from breathing and wakes them up. Thereby preventing them from getting rest and recovery.
Sleep apnea is commonly used synonymously with obstructive sleep apnea, which is part of a category of sleep disorders called sleep disordered breathing (sdb.) Sdb also includes snoring and upper airway resistant syndrome. More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and many don’t ever receive treatment.
What is Sleep Apnea?
There are two types of sleep apnea – central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea (osa), which occurs when muscles in the head and neck relax and block the oral airway. This breathing cessation is called obstructive sleep apnea. In cases where there are frequent episodes of both complete and partial blockage, the term obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea is used. The scale to measure the condition is determined by the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI.) AHI is measure as the number of times a person stops breathing during an hour and classified into 3 categories, Mild, Moderate, Severe.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is the most common indicator of sleep apnea – the airway is partially obstructed while sleeping, resulting in stopped breathing for a few seconds. This lack of oxygen alerts your brain and you temporarily wake up to restart breathing.
However, as this delay is a brief one, most people don’t remember how many times they woke up during the night, causing drowsiness and fatigue during the day.
Some of the symptoms of Sleep apnea include:
• Chronic snoring
• Multiple instances of waking up in the night with a dry throat
• Multiple instances of waking up in the night with a choking sensation
• Headaches, drowsiness and lack of energy during the day
• Uneasiness and continuous movement during sleeping
Prior to any treatment of a sleep disorder, a person should get a sleep study. The most accurate way to evaluate a persons sleep patterns and ensure all other health concerns are addressed is by a sleep study in a sleep center. This is known as a diagnostic polysomnography.
Who is at Risk of Sleep Apnea?
There can be a variety of reasons behind sleep apnea – ranging from obesity, diabetes to even excessive alcohol usage. Obstructive sleep apnea, if left untreated can worsen and cause more consequences than just troubled sleep, including:
• Risk of heart failure (particularly with patients already suffering from a cardiac issue)
• Increased risk of stroke, obesity, diabetes and hypertension
• Increased risk of work place or driving accidents (because of lack of sleep)
Check out http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/sleep-apnea/ for more info.