Obstructive Sleep Apnea Is The Most Common Subtype Of The Condition
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, sometimes referred to as OSA. With OSA, the throat muscles in the back of your throat, which naturally become more relaxed during sleep, collapse too much to allow for normal breathing.
The throat muscles support the soft tissues in the back of the throat such as the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils, and tongue so when those muscles collapse too much, those tissues can fall back into the throat, partially or completely blocking the normal flow of air in your airway. When the airway is blocked partially the person may start to snore, which is why this symptom is common in OSA.
When your brain senses that you arent getting enough oxygen, it signals your body to wake up enough so that you can reopen your airway, and you may gasp for air during the night. Simply put, having obstructive sleep apnea means that not enough air can get into lungs at night, and your brain wakes you up to breathe, says Robson Capasso, MD, chief of sleep surgery and associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
Doctors diagnose OSA using a sleep test that measures your body and brain activity during sleep, which is conducted either at home or at a sleep lab.
Your doctor may also advise you to lose weight and to avoid sleeping on your back, to prevent gravity from further pushing your tongue, tonsils, and other soft tissues in your throat into your airway.
Health Consequences Of Sleep Apnea
The chronic sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can result in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and an increased risk of accidents and errors in your daily activities.
Sleep apnea also has a mental impact. It can trigger moodiness and irritability and cause anxiety and depression. It also increases your risk of other serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.
How Can I Get Rid Of Sleep Apnea
For milder cases of obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes:Lose weight if youre overweight.Exercise regularly.Drink alcohol moderately, if at all, and dont drink several hours before bedtime.Quit smoking.Use a nasal decongestant or allergy medications.Dont sleep on your back.More itemsJun 5, 2019
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What Are The Possible Treatments For Osa
There are several treatment options available. An initial treatment may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. One of the surgical options is an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty , which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with the assistance of a laser, known as laser assisted uvulo-palato-plasty . In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These procedures are usually performed under light IV sedation in the office.
In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway . This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires a one to two night stay in the hospital.
OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment.
Other Conditions That Can Cause Sleep Apnea In Skinny People
If you are someone who does not have problems with their weight and have noticed any of the following symptoms, you may be questioning whether sleep apnea could be the cause.
- Excessive fatigue
- Waking with a sore throat or a dry mouth
- Waking in the night with shortness of breath or gasping for air
Once you have assessed your symptoms, the next question to ask is whether you have any other health conditions or whether there is a possibility that you may.
The tonsils are glands which sit in the back of the throat and some people have naturally larger ones than others. If this is the case, the enlarged tonsils can obstruct the airways and in turn be a factor in sleep apnea.
For those with a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome, sleep apnea can be a common problem. This is due to a variety of physical problems such as an enlarged tongue which can block the airways or a decrease in the muscle tone of the airways.
Physical Features Not Related To A Medical Condition
Some people are simply more prone to sleep apnea as a result of their natural physical make up that has no relation to any medical condition.
It has been observed that sleep apnea is more prominent in those with a round head, thinner airways, a thicker set neck or a deviated septum. All of these features can lead to obstructions in the airway and regardless of whether the patient is obese or not, can lead to sleep apnea.
High Blood Pressure
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Health Effects Of Sleep Apnea And Excess Weight
Deprived of sufficient, quality rest, sleep apnea sufferers experience significant stress on their cardiovascular, metabolic, and pulmonary systems. This may be particularly worrisome for obese people, because obesity can also elevate the risk of heart, lung, and metabolic problems, potentially compounding their health concerns.
Will Treating Sleep Apnea Help You Lose Weight
Evidence suggests that OSA patients who effectively manage their sleep apnea may find it easier to lose weight. In one study, ghrelin levels were higher in OSA patients than in people without OSA of the same body mass but fell to comparable levels after two days of using CPAP treatment.
Conflictingly, long-term use of CPAP, the most effective sleep apnea treatment, has been associated with weight gain in some studies. However, the reasons for this association are unclear, and more research is needed. Given the complexity of weight and sleep apnea treatment, overweight patients should not solely rely on CPAP therapy or apnea treatments as their sole means of weight control.
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Why Women Are At Higher Risk For Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder thats typically been associated with older, overweight men, but studies are finding more and more that women of all ages and sizes suffer from some form of obstructive sleep apnea, or interruptions in breathing during sleep. Young, healthy, and fit women often dont get diagnosed because they dont show the same warning signs.
One of the common indicators doctors use to detect sleep apnea is a large neck. But women with slim necks tend to get overlooked as candidates for sleep-disordered breathing and sleep apnea.
A small, narrow neck and mouth or slim jaws can make women more susceptible to having an airway that becomes blocked at night.
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A recent study found that 50 percent of women between age 20 and 70 have some degree of sleep interruptions due to disordered breathing caused by obstructive sleep apnea, ranging from mild to severe.
I had always been confounded by the previous estimations that only five to six percent of people had sleep apnea since, in my practice, I see its much closer to around 18 percent.
Tips To Improve Health And Comfort
Choose a CPAP device with a built-in humidifier. Most devices now include a built-in humidifier, which helps prevent the dryness and skin irritation that can sometimes occur.
If youre experiencing nasal congestion, you may prefer a full-face mask over a nasal or nasal pillow mask. Also be sure to keep your humidifier tank full, keep your tubing and mask clean, and make sure your filter is clean. Nasal sprays and antihistamines also help.
Keep your device clean. Its very important to clean your CPAP hose, nosepiece or mask, and humidifier tub regularly, as a dirty CPAP device can cause infections and even pneumonia. Your sleep doctor and device manufacturer will give you detailed cleaning instructions.
To ensure maximum comfort, ask your doctor about soft pads to reduce skin irritation, nasal pillows for nose discomfort, and chinstraps to keep your mouth closed and reduce throat irritation and dry mouth.
Mask the sound of the CPAP machine. Most new CPAP devices are quiet, but if the sound of your CPAP machine bothers you, try placing it beneath the bed and using a sound machine to muffle the noise.
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Tired Sleep Apnea Now Recognized In Thin Women
Sleep is one of our most important self care regimens. Did you know that the health of your airway can disrupt the quality of your sleep? Poor airway health is now being recognized as a root cause for many chronic ailments. The American Dental Associations policy on dentistrys role in sleep related breathing disorders was recently approved. Poor airway health affects all age groups from infants to adults. Children and infants are more susceptible to the negative effects of poor sleep as their brains develop. While obese older men are most likely at risk, this can also be present in young adults, teens and particularly slender women with smaller airways. This can leave you with constantly low levels of energy, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. For more insight on addressing root causes of cognitive impairment like this, join PIM on 1/24 for Prime Cognition: Optimize Your Brain Health.
What are the signs?
Interested in connecting with PIM? Register for one of our upcoming events – FREE Group Classes at Cabrini College OR Nutrition Classes with our very own Rachel Hershberger, MS, CNS, LDN, tickets just $45 at sign up .
If you or your loved one has ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, or they are suffering from a chronic illness, please consider scheduling a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Lauren Houser, MS, MSN, CRNP or Annmarie McManus, MMSc, PA-C, PT, IFMCP.
Can Sleep Apnea Kill You
Its not likely that sleep apnea causes death by itself, but it can potentially play a role in the severity of other diseases or disorders.
The low oxygen saturation caused by sleep apnea can contribute to:
- Vascular and endothelial dysfunction like hypertension
- Early atherosclerosis
- Increased risk of cardiovascular events
The condition is also associated with impaired metabolism, including:
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- Metabolic syndrome
Unfortunately, it also causes gradual damage to the brain due to an insufficient supply of oxygen.
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What Is The Newest Treatment For Sleep Apnea
The FDA approved a prescription tongue muscle stimulation device that claims to reduce mild sleep apnea and snoring in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
The FDA recently announced the approval of a prescription tongue muscle stimulation device that claims to reduce mild obstructive sleep apnea and snoring..
Why Do Overweight People Suffer From Sleep Apnea
There are many ways in which being overweight can have a negative effect on your health and its right to say that sleep apnea is one of these ways.
Carrying a lot of excess weight can put pressure on various areas of the body, one of these is the soft tissues which can be found in the mouth and nose. Quite simply, the soft tissues in and around the airways in an overweight person are much more than a person of a healthy weight. These heavier than usual tissues can obstruct the airways of the patient which in turn causes difficulty breathing, especially whilst asleep.
For most of us, we sleep lying down and these soft tissues in your nose and mouth which are enlarged due to being overweight, can put pressure on your airways in this reclined position.
If you do suffer with weight problems, you will likely find breathing more difficult even when you are awake and so sleep apnea as a result of your weight is a common issue.
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What Are The Benefits Of Sleep Apnea Treatment
It goes without saying that a good nights sleep is essential to our emotional and physical well-being. Even if you cant remember waking up at night, sleep apnea is still disturbing your sleep cycle and this can have short-term and long-term effects on your health, relationships and quality of life. Besides finally getting a good nights sleep, what are some of the benefits of sleep apnea treatment?
Is Sleep Apnea Linked To Anxiety
Though it’s clear that apnea is a very common cause of anxiety and panic attacks, it is difficult to establish that anxiety can lead to sleep apnea. However, anxiety can prevent you from having a good night’s sleep which can eventually aggravate sleep apnea. It can thus negatively affect your treatment for sleep apnea.
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Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea
If a thin person snores like a freight train, its a safe bet that he or she has obstructive sleep apnea. However, not all people with OSA snore!
If you have symptoms that are suspicious for OSA, it can be diagnosed only via a lab or home sleep study.
If a doctor says, You cant possibly have sleep apnea bacause youre too thin/fit/physically active, then see another doctorpreferably an ear, nose and throat specialist or a doctor board certified in sleep medicine.
Other Symptoms of OSA that Can Affect Thin Physically Fit People As Much As Overweight
Morning headaches that quickly disappear once youre up and about.
Repeated need overnight to urinate, even if you withhold liquid intake for several hours preceding bedtime.
Waking repeatedly in the middle of the night gasping for air or feeling as though you have not taken a breath for a while.
Bed partner reports seeing you stop breathing for extended periods or reports that you choke or gasp in your sleep.
Unexplained daytime drowsiness.
Easily dozing off while driving.
Though ads or articles about sleep apnea typically show a portly middle aged man using a CPAP machine, this is because quite frankly photographers are just as influenced by misconception as is everyone else.
So they hire a model who fits the stereotype of a sleep apnea patient: an overweight middle age man.
But now you know why fit, trim, buff, athletic and physically fit people, including women, can have obstructive sleep apnea.
Lifestyle Treatments For Sleep Apnea
For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may be enough to treat the issue. Your doctor will let you know if thats the right starting point. But even if you are prescribed a medical treatment, the following changes can help reduce your sleep apnea episodes and improve your sleep.
Lose weight. If you are overweight, losing weight can have an enormous impact. While it is usually not a total cure, it can reduce the number of breathing episodes you experience, reduce your blood pressure, and decrease daytime sleepiness. Even a small amount of weight loss can open up your throat and improve sleep apnea symptoms.
Exercise. Even when exercise does not lead to weight loss, it can decrease your sleep apnea breathing episodes and improve your alertness and energy during the day. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and yoga are all good choices for strengthening the muscles in your airways and improving breathing.
Sleep on your side. Lying on your back is the worst position for sleep apnea, as it causes the jaw, tongue, and other soft tissues to drop back toward the throat, narrowing your airway. Sleeping on your stomach isnt much better, since lying face down or twisting your head to the side both obstruct breathing. Lying on your side, on the other hand, helps keep your airway open. If you find side sleeping uncomfortable or you tend to roll on to your back after youre asleep, countered side pillows or body pillows may help.
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Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
Currently the most common treatment for sleep apnea, you may already be familiar with CPAP machines. A mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers a constant steady stream of air that helps keep your airways open so you can breathe normally. There are different kinds of masks and machines available depending on your needs and what youre comfortable sleeping with.
What Is A Cpap Device And How Does It Work
A CPAP device is a machine that uses a hose and airtight nosepiece or mask to deliver a steady stream of air as you sleep. The air pressure helps keep your airway open, preventing pauses in breathing.
CPAP technology is constantly being updated and improved, and the new CPAP devices are lighter, quieter, and more comfortable than they used to be. So even if youve given up on them in the past, you owe it to yourself to give them a second look.
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Why Do Patients With Sleep Apnea Wake Up Feeling Unrefreshed
This narrows the airway, which reduces the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The narrowed airway causes snoring by making the tissue in back of the throat vibrate as you breathe. Sleep apnea can make you wake up in the morning feeling tired or unrefreshed even though you have had a full night of sleep.
How Common Is Sleep Apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea Central Sleep Apnea and mixed, which is a combination of both OSA and CSA. The most common of these is OSA, and there are some shocking stats about the prevalence of undiagnosed OSA out there.
Its estimated that 1 in 15 adults in the United States have sleep apnea, and 80% dont even know it. So, dont chalk excessive daytime sleepiness up to everyday fatigue or mood swings up to a menstrual cycle if youre having trouble sleeping at night, it may be time to call your doctor.