Sleep apnea is a surprisingly common problem with potentially dangerous consequences. There are three types of this condition that can happen. They are obstructive, cental, and complex sleep apnea syndrome.
Defining Sleep Apnea
The word “apnea” literally means to stop breathing. Sleep apnea is diagnosed when the person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more while sleeping. This typically happens throughout the night.
How severe your sleep apnea is depends on if it affects the oxygen levels in your blood, as well as how many times it happens per night. If you stop breathing, which is referred to as an “event”, 0-4 times per hour, this is considered normal. The condition is classified as mild when it happens 5 to 15 times, moderate when it is 16 to 30 times, and severe when it is happening more than 30 times per hour.
Obstructive sleep apnea is when the airway becomes blocked. Either the airway has collapsed or the tissues are blocking it. The central type happens when the brain tells the body not to breathe. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is when a person has both types.
Either type is considered to be a medical condition. Symptoms include feeling fatigued throughout the day, having a headache when you wake up, depression, changes in mood, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, and snoring.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Snoring can be the biggest warning sign of this condition. When your throat is rattling and vibrating while you are asleep, it gets narrower. Over time, the vibration can damage the nerves in the throat, making it harder for your body to keep your airway open. Anyone who snores regularly should be tested for sleep apnea.
Although this condition can cause serious problems, the good news is there are things that can be done. In some cases, surgery can be beneficial. While genetics do tend to play a role in your likelihood of having this problem, facial structure seems to be a bigger component.
If it is determined that your facial features are not causing the issue, or you would just prefer not to have surgery, a CPAP machine may be the answer. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. Other treatment options include nasal dilators and oral appliances.
Are you ready to learn more about sleep apnea and how it may be affecting your life? Schedule a consultation with our friendly and dedicated team at Advanced Ear, Nose & Throat Associates in Atlanta, GA. Contact our office today to book an appointment and get started!