How Sleep Apnea Is Affecting Your Sleep?

By Dr. Richard Nass M.D.
August 10, 2015
Category: ENT Health
Tags: Sleep Apnea  

Snoring affects many people all over the world. It is oftentimes a nuisance not only to the sufferer, but to their partner as well. Sometimes, when snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder, it is more than just a nuisance.Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder, distinguished by pauses in breathing and/or shallow or stoppage of breathing while sleeping. There are three forms of Sleep Apnea:

  • Obstructive (OSA): The most common form of Sleep Apnea, occurring in about 12 million Americans, OSA is caused by an obstruction to the airway, such as when the muscles at the back of the throat relax to the point of not allowing breath into the airway. Apneas, or pauses in breathing, typically last from 20 to 40 seconds.
  • Central (CSA): Breathing lessens or stops, usually lasting in episodes from 10 to 30 seconds, causing lowered saturation in blood oxygen levels. This is caused by the brain’s centers that control respiratory functions being imbalanced and failing to transmit the signals to the body needed for breathing, rather than by physical abnormalities. CSA is much less common than OSA.
  • Complex/Mixed: This condition occurs when OSA is treated using positive airway pressure, and the OSA symptoms become symptoms of CSA rather than resolving.

What are the symptoms of Sleep Apnea? 
While sleep apnea is common, it can be frustrating and scary. While not everyone who suffers from Sleep Apnea experiences every symptom, they may struggle with:

  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing while sleeping
  • Waking abruptly, usually with shortness of breath
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches in the morning

Though Sleep Apnea can affect anyone, men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea than women. Being overweight, having a naturally narrow airway, smoking and using alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers all contribute to Sleep Apnea.

How is Sleep Apnea treated? 
Sometimes, when the condition is mild, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or losing weight can be effective in treating Sleep Apnea. In more severe cases, CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is beneficial. A machine is used to regulate air pressure to keep the passageways open and to prevent apneas and snoring. This is the most common treatment. EPAP, or expiratory positive airway pressure, is a treatment achieved by using a small device placed over the nostrils while sleeping. The air can be inhaled freely, but must be exhaled through small holes in the device, creating higher air pressure and opening the airway.

In the most severe cases that cannot be treated by appliances, surgery is needed, and can include removing tissue in an obstructed airway, repositioning the jaw, or even creating a new airway in the form of a tracheotomy.

Dr. Richard Nass is an accomplished Ear Nose and Throat doctor, with offices in New York City, NY. He is dedicated to providing professional, compassionate care to all of his patients. Visit www.drrichardnass.com to schedule a consultation today.

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