Sleep Apnea: What are the Signs and Symptoms?

The Facts About Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that can cause you to stop breathing involuntarily while sleeping. Although it affects around 26% of adults aged between 30 and 70, it often goes underreported. There are different types of sleep apnea, and the complications to your health can range from mild to life-threatening. If you’re experiencing nighttime breathing problems or sleep apnea, you may benefit from seeking treatment from an ENT specialist. They offer a variety of effective treatments to improve your quality of sleep. Understanding the various types of sleep apnea and its symptoms is essential to recognize when you need medical help.

What are the Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

Central sleep apnea (CSA)

Sleep apnea is a relatively uncommon medical condition, affecting less than 1% of the population. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles responsible for breathing, leading to brief interruptions in breathing. These interruptions can result in symptoms such as shortness of breath upon waking or difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common condition that affects around 10% to 30% of adults in the United States. During sleep, the muscles at the back of your throat that support the soft palate, tongue, side walls of your throat, and other nearby structures relax. This can cause the soft tissues to collapse into the airway, narrowing or even closing it off, which prevents you from inhaling properly.

In rare instances, an individual might experience a combination of both types. In either case, when the oxygen level within their bloodstream decreases, their brain detects an issue and sends a signal to awaken them and unblock their air passages. However, the disruption is so brief that they are unlikely to recall it the following day. During sleep, individuals who experience snoring or choking sounds may have their breathing interrupted, preventing them from reaching the deep, restorative phases of sleep. This cycle can occur frequently, ranging from five to 30 times or more per hour, and can last throughout the night. Consequently, upon awakening, they may feel tired and dehydrated. Recognizing such patterns and seeking medical attention to address any underlying concerns is essential.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA) share similarities. However, the two most common signs of OSA are usually noticed by a bedmate or roommate, who may hear loud snoring or observe periods of breath-holding. Common indicators of this condition are constant symptoms that you can catch yourself, including:

• Dry mouth when waking
• Chronic headaches after waking
• Problems staying asleep throughout the night
• Excessive sleepiness
• Concentration and memory issues

Suppose you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above or if you are apprised of your snoring and gasping by another individual. In that case, it is crucial that you promptly seek medical attention. This is because any interruption in breathing, even if for a brief time, can pose a grave threat to your life.

What are the Treatment Methods?

If we diagnose you with sleep apnea, don’t worry. We have treatments to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

You wear a device over your nose and mouth, which sends a steady stream of air to keep your airway open while you sleep.

Oral Appliances

A custom-made oral appliance holds your lower jaw forward, thus opening your airway and preventing obstruction.

Inspire Implant

This implantable device, approved by the FDA, functions similarly to a pacemaker. Its purpose is to stimulate the nerves in your throat muscles, which will contract and open your airway, permitting you to breathe naturally and sleep peacefully. The device constantly monitors your breathing, and if it detects that you are not drawing breath, it will activate the stimulation to ensure that your airway remains open.

Are you a noisy sleeper? Do you feel like you need more sleep? It may be time to schedule an appointment with an ENT specialist for an evaluation.

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