So much more than sleepless nights
Sleep apnea is a common condition that negatively impacts the lives of an estimated 22 million Americans. This sleep disorder can impact every area of your daily life and may result in serious health problems that are sometimes fatal. Restful sleep is critical to your quality of life. If you are experiencing breathing problems while sleeping, let’s work together and put an end to your sleepless nights.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a disorder that results in abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping. These irregular breathing patterns deprive systems of critical oxygen supplies and prevent the body from maintaining restful sleep. It can be found in all age groups from young children to senior adults. Although it is most likely to be found in men, it impacts women as well.
Sleep apnea is broken down into three distinct types that are characterized by the source of the sleep disruption.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This is the most common type of apnea that is caused by a blockage of the airway in the back of the throat.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
This apnea is caused by a disruption of brain signals that control respiratory muscles. When these signals are not working correctly it can result in shallow, slow, and inefficient breathing.
Mixed Sleep Apnea
This occurs when a patient has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. This is a complex form of apnea that requires careful attention.
This life-threatening disorder has a number of negative effects on the body. Common sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Interrupted Breathing: When breathing pauses or becomes labored.
- Excessive Fatigue: Daytime tiredness that is out of the ordinary.
- Headaches: Waking up with headaches in the morning.
- Nocturia: Excessive trips to the bathroom during the night.
- Insomnia: The inability to sleep and stay asleep.
- Decreased Libido: A loss or reduction in sexual desire.
- Lack of Concentration: The inability to focus or think clearly.
- Irritable Thoughts or Behaviors: Difficulty regulating mood and an increase in conflict.
Those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea may also experience the following. These particular side effects of sleep apnea are the result of the blocked airways at the back of the throat.
- Snoring: This may range from mild snoring to loud snores that resemble gasping, snorting, or choking sounds. These may be disruptive enough to wake up the snorer and their partner.
- Dry Mouth & Sore Throat: This may result from breathing with an open mouth as well as the irritation from interrupted breathing.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea are often not aware of their own sleep interruptions. Frequently it is a spouse, partner, or roommate that first notices the symptoms. Those who live alone may be at particular risk of allowing symptoms to go unnoticed.
Although many sleep apnea patients have similar types and symptoms, your sleep apnea is unique to you. Depending on your overall health, long-term goals, and lifestyle, you have individual needs that require a customized treatment plan. The team of professionals at New Orleans Sinus Center will listen, evaluate, and partner with you to develop a successful treatment plan that works for your needs.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition on its own; however, its impact on other bodily functions and systems can make it life-threatening. It is important that sleep apnea is diagnosed and treated early to minimize the impact on overall health. Some conditions that are associated with sleep apnea include:
- Cardiovascular Problems: Including increased risk for heart attack and stroke as well as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
- Irregular heartbeats: Heart rhythm problems such as AFib are also associated with sleep apnea.
- Asthma: There is a strong connection between asthma and sleep apnea.
- Cancer: Sleep apnea may not cause cancer, but there is a strong correlation between the two. Evidence shows that people who suffer from sleep apnea may have higher rates of death from cancer.
- Eye Disorders: The lack of regular oxygen flow due to sleep apnea increases the likelihood of eye conditions such as glaucoma.
- Diabetes: Sleep apnea and diabetes often coexist and result in difficulty managing diabetes.
- Pregnancy Complications: Pregnant women with sleep apnea are at greater risk of complications including diabetes, blood pressure, and lower birth weight.
- Increased Accident Risk: This may include workplace accidents as well as vehicle crashes that are a result of poor sleep and fatigue.
- Poor Cognition: Decreased ability to concentrate and process thoughts. This may also include a loss of verbal and motor skills and increased likelihood of memory loss and dementia. Children with sleep disruption have higher levels of learning disabilities and decreased performance in the classroom.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and is caused by a blockage of the airways during sleep. These blockages may be a result of any of the following:
- Relaxed throat and tongue muscles block the airway.
- Relaxed soft palate and uvula cause labored noisy breathing.
- Excess tissue, as a result of obesity, can narrow the air passage.
In all of these situations, the breathing muscles are working to produce normal breath, but airflow is blocked and oxygen is restricted. In addition, the following risk factors can contribute to excessive relaxation around the airways.
- Cigarette Smoking
- Back Sleeping
- Family History
- Hormone Imbalance
Central Sleep Apnea is less common and is triggered by a lapse in brain signals to the respiratory muscles. This condition is often a result of a neurological condition such as:
- Brain Infection
- Brain Tumor
It can also result from opioid pain medication that interferes with brain communication.
Because there are different types of sleep apnea and various causes, effective diagnosis should always be done by sleep professionals. Our board-certified team of physicians has the ability to review your unique set of symptoms and understand how sleep apnea is impacting your overall health. We will work with you to identify the most appropriate sleep apnea test and develop customized treatments for you.
Sleep tests collect important data to determine physical, neurological, and respiratory function. Modern technology allows us to implement the most effective testing to get the most accurate results.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Your sleep apnea treatment plan should be customized to fit your symptoms, address your unique medical history, and meet your individual goals. Today more than ever, it is easy to find sleep apnea devices and sleep apnea cures on the internet, social media, and television. However, your sleep is too important to your overall health to leave to untrusted sources and unproven treatments.
New Orleans Sinus Center relies on the most advanced research-driven treatments that will produce results and improve your long-term health. Some of the most common treatments include:
One of the most effective ways to manage and control sleep apnea is through lifestyle changes. Not only do these natural remedies for sleep apnea work, but they often result in a significant improvement to overall health. These may include:
- Weight Loss: Even a small reduction in weight can have a dramatic impact on sleep apnea symptoms.
- Limiting Alcohol and Sedatives: Reducing the dependence on alcohol and sedatives can help limit excessive relaxation in the airway.
- Sleep Posture: Sleeping on your side or using pillows to change sleep posture.
- Smoking Cessation: There is a strong connection between smoking cessation and improvements in sleep apnea.
The use of breathing machines such as CPAP or BiPAP allow air to be pushed into the airway to maintain a normal flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The use of sleep apnea machines with sleep apnea masks can be highly effective and reduce the risk of other complications from oxygen loss or CO2 buildup.
These devices are designed to control the tongue or jaw and prevent airflow blockage. This may be an effective treatment for mild sleep apnea as well as to address issues with snoring.
When sleep apnea is caused by physical abnormalities in the airway and when other devices are not effective, surgery may be considered as part of an overall treatment plan. Surgery is not the first solution, but in some cases it may be the best solution. Surgery can remove excess tissue as well as tonsils, adenoids, and polyps.
Live With Restful Sleep
Restful sleep is vital to your health. Your quality of life, relationships with your friends and family, and your ability to achieve your goals all depend on your sleep. It’s time to rediscover what restful sleep can do for you. Regain your energy, repurpose your day, renew your relationships, refresh your lifestyle, and refocus your future with a customized sleep apnea treatment plan from New Orleans Sinus Center.
Contact us today and get started on the path toward better sleep and improved health.