Do you have burning questions about sleep apnea? We hope they don’t keep you up at night. Let’s discuss the most frequent questions.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts during the night. Sleep apnea is more common in men. Older, obese people are more at risk. It can be dangerous if untreated. It is not uncommon for someone with sleep apnea to snore or feel tired after a full night’s sleep.
There are three types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea describes a condition where your throat muscles relax. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send proper signals to control breathing. The final type is called complex sleep apnea syndrome. This type occurs when someone has a combination of the two previously listed.
If you are diagnosed as having Obstructive Sleep Apnea, make sure you research all treatment options. Some kinds of sleep apnea can be treated with an oral appliance. Treatment can ease your symptoms and help prevent heart problems and other issues.
There are a variety of treatments for sleep apnea. In some cases, lifestyle changes can help the patient manage it. These include losing weight and quitting smoking. One of the most common treatments is with a CPAP device. A CPAP machine is a continuous positive airway pressure machine that the individual wears at night. The airway pressure opens up the air passages which allows the patient to breathe easier. Another option is a dental appliance that repositions the jaw and tongue so the patient can breathe easier at night. In extreme cases where the person has a physical abnormality of the throat, a doctor may advise upper airway surgery to remove tissue in the airway.
Who is most at risk for sleep apnea?
- Overweight or obese
- Heavy smokers
- Heavy drinkers
- Individuals with a sedentary lifestyle
- People with an overbite
- People with an unusually large neck
Did you know?
- More than 18 million people in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea
- Sleep apnea is often undiagnosed
- Sleep apnea is not the same as snoring but the problems often occur together
What are the possible long-term effects of sleep apnea?
- Daytime fatigue
- Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
- Difficulty focusing
- Frequent headaches
- Increased risk of an auto accident
- Causing your bed partner to suffer health problems from poor sleep
Can you prevent sleep apnea?
There is no way to guarantee that you won’t develop sleep apnea. But there are things you can do to minimize the risk. It is important to live an active, healthy lifestyle that includes avoiding drinking and smoking, eating properly, and exercising regularly.
Maintaining a healthy weight for your age and height is a simple way to prevent sleep apnea. (And it provides a myriad of additional health benefits.)
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