Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by pauses in breathing while sleeping. When people with sleep apnea sleep, they have many lengthy breath pauses. These brief pauses in breathing impair sleep quality and deplete the body’s oxygen supply, potentially resulting in serious health repercussions.
One of the most frequent sleep disorders in the United States is sleep apnea. It can affect both infants and adults, as well as persons of both sexes, though men are more likely to be affected.
Because of the prevalence and possible health implications of sleep apnea, it is critical that people understand what it is, as well as its forms, symptoms, causes, and treatments.
What Are the Different Kinds of Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the airway in the back of the throat gets physically obstructed while sleeping. This blockage produces breathlessness for a short period of time.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain’s system for directing muscles involved in respiration malfunctions, resulting in slower and shallower breathing.
Mixed Sleep Apnea or Complicated Sleep Apnea: When a person has both OSA and CSA, it is referred to as mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.
Is Sleep Apnea a Common Problem?
Obstructive sleep apnea is thought to affect 2-9 percent of individuals, with many instances going untreated, which corresponds to studies that show significantly higher rates of OSA. Because studies have employed varied criteria for identifying the illness, it’s difficult to ascertain a precise prevalence.
Around.9% of adults5 over the age of 40 have central sleep apnea, according to research. It is far more common in men than it is in women.
OSA is far more frequent than CSA, as this data shows. As a result, when people talk about “sleep apnea,” they’re usually talking about OSA.
What Are the Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- Breathing disruption occurs when a person’s breathing becomes difficult or even stops for up to a minute at a time.
- Excessive drowsiness during the day
- Having trouble paying attention or thinking clearly
- Headaches in the morning
Many of these symptoms are caused by insufficient sleep and low oxygen levels as a result of disturbed breathing.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is linked to the following additional symptoms:
- Sore throat or dry mouth in the morning
- Urge to urinate on a regular basis
- Snoring, such as snoring that is particularly loud and involves gasping, choking, or snorting, can cause a person to wake up for a limited period of time.
Although chronic snoring is the most prevalent sign of OSA, not everyone who snores has the condition. In patients with CSA, snoring is not a common symptom.
A person with sleep apnea is usually unaware of their breathing problems during the night. As a result, people frequently learn of the problem from a bed partner, family member, or roommate. People with sleep apnea who live alone are most likely to detect excessive daytime sleepiness as a symptom.
What Causes Sleep Apnea and How Can It Be Treated?
When a person’s airway becomes clogged during sleep, this is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Several factors have been discovered to raise the likelihood of obstruction and OSA:
- Characteristics of anatomy Airflow is directly affected by the size and location of a person’s neck, jaw, tongue, tonsils, and other tissue in the back of the throat.
- Obesity. Obesity is a primary cause of OSA, and in up to 60% of cases, it may be an underlying risk factor. Obesity causes structural narrowing of the airway, and studies show that a 10% increase in weight can result in a six-fold increase in OSA risk.
- Sedatives, including alcohol, are commonly used. The tissue in the throat can relax as a result of sedative medications and substances, making it simpler for the airway to become clogged.
- History of the family. People with OSA are more likely to develop it themselves if they have one or more close relatives who have it.
- Smoking cigarettes. People who smoke, particularly heavy smokers, have been reported to have a higher rate of OSA than nonsmokers.
- Sleeping on your back is a good idea. Tissue collapses9 around the airway more easily in this sleeping position, causing obstructions.
- Congestion in the nose. People who have difficulty breathing through their nose due to congestion are more likely to develop OSA.
Breathing is influenced differently in (CSA) Central Sleep Apnea than it is in Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The difficulty arises in how the brain communicates with the muscles that control breathing, rather than an impediment causing breathing gaps. The brain stem, in particular, fails to effectively perceive carbon dioxide levels in the body, resulting in breathing that is slower and shallower than it should be.
The majority of the time, CSA is linked to a medical issue. A stroke, a brain infection, or, in rare situations, a brain tumor can all affect the brain stem. Opioids, which are used to treat pain, can interfere with the regular breathing mechanism.
Heart failure is a risk factor for CSA, and CSA can also develop when a person’s oxygen levels are disrupted due to their high altitude.
What Are Sleep Apnea’s Health Consequences?
Sleep apnea can cause sleep loss and shallower total sleep due to nightly disruptions. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a variety of health issues that affect a person physically, intellectually, and emotionally. As a result, it’s no surprise that sleep apnea has been linked to a variety of health issues.
Untreated sleep apnea elevates the risk of a variety of cardiovascular disorders, including high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke, due to how it disrupts oxygen balance in the body.
What Are the Sleep Apnea Treatments?
If you have sleep apnea symptoms, you should see a doctor right once. It’s tough to treat sleep apnea without first figuring out what’s causing it. The doctor may suggest an overnight sleep study to assess your sleep, including your breathing, if necessary.
If a person is diagnosed with OSA or CSA, treatment can help them sleep better and reduce their risk of long-term health problems. A doctor who is familiar with a patient’s circumstances is in the best position to discuss treatment options and hazards, as well as give specific suggestions.
Some cases of OSA can be resolved by making lifestyle changes like as lowering weight, limiting sedative usage, and sleeping on your side. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine is another typical treatment. These devices force air into the airway using a mask to keep it open while sleeping.
For persons with certain anatomical traits that cause mild OSA, mouthpieces that hold the jaw or tongue in a precise posture are a possibility. Surgery to remove tissue and expand the airway can also be explored, though it is usually not the initial treatment option. People with this symptom may be administered medications to aid with daytime sleepiness.
The most common treatment for CSA is to treat the underlying illness that causes the abnormal breathing, such as a brain infection, heart failure, or altitude adjustment. Some individuals may benefit from continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or (BiPAP) bi-level positive airway pressure equipment, as well as supplemental oxygen.