Have you noticed a change in your alertness lately? Perhaps your partner is waking you in the middle of the night complaining about your snoring. Are you struggling to make it through the day without a nap? You may have sleep apnea!
The definition of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when your body stops breathing multiple times throughout the night. These moments can last from seconds to minutes, often happening more than five times per hour. When your breathing resumes, it is usually accompanied by a snort or choking sound.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common diagnosis. This occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses, blocking the airway. Central sleep apnea is more serious of a case, as the part of the brain that controls breathing will not send the proper signals to the breathing muscles.
Most people are unaware that they have sleep apnea, as you are unconscious when all of this occurs. However since your sleep is interrupted with these occurrences, you will notice much greater fatigue and irritability during the day.
Who is at risk for sleep apnea?
Statistically, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea than women. Other risk factors include: obesity, 40 years old and older, a history of smoking, family history, nasal obstructions such as a deviated septum.
If you are noticing symptoms of sleep apnea in yourself, your partner, or your child, it is important to get tested. The standard test to determine if you have sleep apnea is the Polysomnogram. This is a sleep study that takes place in a sleep lab. This study observes blood pressure, eye movement, brain activity, and the amount of air moving in and out of your lungs.
Don’t worry, if you or someone you love is diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are treatment options! The first step is to evaluate your lifestyle habits. For example, if you drink alcohol and/or smoke cigarettes heavily, it may be time to cut back. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is also key, as it will reduce your risk of obesity, one of the leading causes of sleep apnea.
If lifestyle changes don’t help, a CPAP machine may be in your future. This machine will assist in keeping your airway open throughout the night. There are many different styles and fits to these machines, so you are sure to find the perfect one! For more serious cases, oral appliances or surgery may be the solution.
Contact us at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions to learn more about how we can help you with your sleep apnea diagnosis!