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What Happens With Sleep Apnea

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What It Is Its Risk Factors Its Health Impacts And How It Can Be Treated

What happens during obstructive sleep apnea?

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    Sleep apnea is a condition marked by abnormal breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea have multiple extended pauses in breath when they sleep. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the bodys supply of oxygen, leading to potentially serious health consequences.

    Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States. It can affect children and adults and people of both sexes, although it is more common in men.

    Because of sleep apneas prevalence and potential health impact, it is important for people to be aware of what sleep apnea is and to know its types, symptoms, causes, and treatments.

    Checklist Of Things To Ask Your Sleep Doctor And Cpap Provider

    You have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. For most patients, sleep apnea is for life and this is the time to be proactive in your prescribed treatment therapy. You are most likely in a sleepy fog when you visit the sleep doctor for your follow up visit. You will be given the results of your overnight sleep study, have a follow up visit with the sleep doctor then be referred to a CPAP provider and not necessarily in that order. This is a critical time as you begin CPAP therapy and the information you will be receiving is important yet may seem overwhelming your brain may be on overload. This is all new to you and so how will you know what questions to ask?

    The following is a checklist of important information you should receive and questions you should ask your healthcare providers.

    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    If you or someone you love experiences recurrent pauses in breathing, you should seek medical evaluation. Dont dismiss breathing disturbances in sleep as inconsequential over time, serious problems can develop.

    Other symptoms or signs may point to the diagnosis, but a sleep study will give you a definitive answer as to the cause. Fortunately, effective treatment options are available, including the use of CPAP or an oral appliance.

    Speak with your healthcare provider and get the treatment you need to breathe and sleep better. Youll be glad that you did.

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    What Happens If You Leave Sleep Apnea Untreated

    Can sleep apnea cause altered mental status? As sleep apnea can cause great disturbances in sleep, physical, mental, and emotional tolls can occur as a result of poor quality of sleep.

    Can You Die From Sleep Apnea Osa Csa And Mix Type Of Apnea

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea Is The Most Common Subtype Of The Condition

    What Happens When You Have Sleep Apnea?

    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.

    Research indicates that cases of obstructive sleep apnea have risen significantly in the last two decades. This is likely due to two main factors: Obesity has increased dramatically and there is more awareness about sleep apnea among doctors and the public at large, so more people are being screened and diagnosed, says James Rowley, MD, professor of medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, and a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine .

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    Circulatory And Cardiovascular Systems

    Sleep apnea has been linked to obesity and high blood pressure, which increase the strain on your heart. If you have apnea, youre more likely to have an abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation, which could increase your risk of a stroke. Heart failure is also more common in people with sleep apnea.

    American Sleep Apnea Association

    We envision a world in which most people suffering from sleep apnea are diagnosed, aware, educated and treated. This serious syndrome, when left untreated has a large influence on quality of life and multiple life-threatening implications. Yet it is highly treatable. Unfortunately it is estimated that more than 80% of people suffering from sleep apnea are undiagnosed. To help those living with sleep apnea, we work relentlessly to promote

  • better awareness in the general public and among health professionals and,
  • affordable, convenient and highly effective diagnoses and treatments.
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    What Happens If Sleep Apnea Is Left Untreated

    Sleep is an important part of human life. It allows the body and mind to rest and recover from the pressure of daily life. Sleep apnea is a common serious sleep disorder that stops the breathing of an individual for a short time. This happens repeatedly during sleep. When you go through the sleep apnea statistics, you will know why plenty of individuals are missing high-quality sleep and why sleep apnea treatment is essential.

    What Are The Treatments For Sleep Apnea

    Sleep Disorders Center: What Happens in the Sleep Laboratory

    Conservative treatments: In mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, conservative therapy may be all that is needed.

    • Overweight persons can benefit from losing weight. Even a 10% weight loss can reduce the number of apneic events for most patients. However, losing weight can be difficult to do with untreated obstructive sleep apnea due to increased appetite and metabolism changes that can happen with obstructive sleep apnea.
    • Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea should avoid the use of alcohol and certain sleeping pills, which make the airway more likely to collapse during sleep and prolong the apneic periods.
    • In some patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea, breathing pauses occur only when they sleep on their backs. In such cases, using a wedge pillow or other devices that help them sleep in a side position may help.
    • People with sinus problems or nasal congestion should use nasal sprays or breathing strips to reduce snoring and improve airflow for more comfortable nighttime breathing. Avoiding sleep deprivation is important for all patients with sleep disorders.

    Hypoglossal nerve stimulator: A stimulator is implanted under the skin on the right side of the chest with electrodes tunneled under the skin to the hypoglossal nerve in the neck and to intercostal muscles in the chest. The device is turned on at bedtime with a remote control. With each breath, the hypoglossal nerve is stimulated, the tongue moves forward out of the airway and the airway is opened.

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    What Are The Health Risks Of Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea can lead to sleep deprivation from constant nightly interruptions and shallower overall sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with far-reaching health consequences that affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally, and as a result, it comes as no surprise that sleep apnea has been tied to diverse health problems.

    Because of how it affects oxygen balance in the body, untreated sleep apnea raises dangers for various types of cardiovascular issues including high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

    What Are The Signs Of Sleep Apnea

    There are two kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when air cant flow into or out of the nose or mouth, although youre trying to breathe. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to send the right signals to your muscles to make you start breathing.

    Sleep apnea may be noticed more by the bed partner than by the sleeper, says Jun. Your bed partner might notice that your breathing pauses, or they may complain of your loud snoring.

    That said, snoring itselfthough annoyingisnt the same as sleep apnea. Snoring is just the vibration sound created by airway resistance. You can snore loudly and not have sleep apnea, and you may even have sleep apnea without much snoring.

    People with sleep apnea might also suffer from unexplained fatigue and mood swings, because their breathing interruptions continually wake them and prevent them from settling into a deep, nourishing sleep.

    The consequences can be significant, Jun says. We’re talking about car accidents in the daytime, lost productivity at work, mood swings, waking up feeling groggy and falling asleep in class.

    Other sufferers might wake up with a dry mouth, since sleep apnea tends to make you breathe with an open mouth, drying out your saliva. Some awaken with a headache, which may be caused by low oxygen or high carbon dioxide levels during sleep.

    How is Weight Control Linked to Sleep Apnea?

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    Avoid Alcohol And Sleeping Pills

    If you have trouble sleeping, try a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea or juice instead of unwinding with a glass of wine. Alcohol and certain medications can make throat muscles relax more than normal. As a result, airways can get blocked. Alcohol and medications can also make it harder for your brain to “wake up” and register a lack of oxygen in the body. This can cause longer and more serious pauses in breathing. If you find it hard to fall asleep, try reading a book or taking a warm bath.

    What Is The Cause Of Sleep Apnea

    What happens during obstructive sleep apnea?

    Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where people essentially stop breathing while they are asleep. It is potentially life-threatening and has many side effects.

    The inability to breathe while asleep is usually caused by a disturbance or blockage in the airways. Sometimes it is caused when the soft tissue in the throat, including the tongue and tonsils, becomes too relaxed, resulting in the person not breathing properly.

    Other times, it can be neurological. The signals that are sent from the brain to the muscles that allow you to breathe can malfunction. This can result in what is known as sleep apnea.

    There are three known types of sleep apnea and each one is treated a little differently. The first is obstructive sleep apnea and it is the most common. The second is central sleep apnea and is not as common. The third is mixed sleep apnea, which is a mixture of both these types and is the hardest to diagnose.

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    Raining Cats And Dogs

    I fondly recall one patient who came to see me due to worsening headaches. She told me about how miserable she was from not only her daily headaches, but also from her constant fatigue and worsening memory. While we were talking, I could not help but notice the fur all over her black fleece and black pants. After making this observation, I asked, “Do you have a dog?” and she said, “Yes, I have two dogs and three cats.” I then asked, “Where do your pets sleep?” She replied, “On my bed with me and my husband.” Given the pet-ential for sleep interruptions, I recommended that she stop sharing the bed with her pets, and keep them two closed doors away from the bedroom. Keeping them just outside the bedroom door would surely lead to clawing on the door and other noises that would interrupt her sleep. After following just this simple advice, she experienced a significant improvement of her headaches, fatigue, and memory. I, on the other hand, experienced a significant improvement of the amount of animal fur on the furniture and floor of my office.

    Which Type Of Study Is Best For Me

    If your specialist deems you to be at risk of sleep apnea, you should be offered a sleep study to confirm this suspicion.

    There are two types of study, one done at a specialist sleep lab, the other in your home.

    Studies done at sleep labs:

    • Give more reliable insight into what is happening to your body during sleep
    • Use more attachments and measurements can detect a wider variety of conditions
    • Are usually more expensive
    • Often have less availability meaning longer waits

    Whereas studies performed at home:

    • Are more comfortable due to the familiar settings, therefore can give better quality sleep
    • Still give reliable results, particularly if your symptoms are quite severe
    • Are usually less expensive
    • Are more convenient
    • Can be prone to error if not fitted correctly

    Often, your specialist will recommend the most suitable type of study for you and will make you aware of the relative merits of each.

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    Causes Of Breathing Stopping During Sleep

    Sleep-related breathing disturbances are fairly common. The most familiar one to most people is snoring. The characteristic sound is caused by vibration in the tissues of your upper airway while you breathe.

    It is also possible for you to completely stop breathing for a while. These breathing pauses are called sleep apnea, from the Greek for no breath. By definition, apnea events last at least 10 seconds, but they can stretch on for several minutes.

    The most common cause of apnea is the sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea . OSA occurs when the tissues of the upper airwaythe tongue, soft palate, and uvulacollapse into the throat and block the normal airflow.

    Your body may still make an effort to breathe, with the chest and abdomen moving, but the air can’t get past the obstruction. As a result, airflow through your nose and mouth is reduced or cut off during these periods.

    Other potential causes of disturbed breathing during sleep are less common. They include:

    Health Problems That Can Happen When Sleep Apnea Goes Untreated Or Mismanaged

    What Causes Sleep Apnea and How Do You Treat It?

    Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders

    When those pauses in breathing happen, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, which triggers your brain to increase your heart rate and blood pressure to wake you up, so you start breathing again. You likely dont notice it happening, but these chronic cycles of accelerated heart rate and increased blood pressure increase inflammation throughout the body.

    And thats a problem because chronic inflammation can contribute to buildup of plaque in the arteries , which can strain the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Chronic inflammation can also damage the pancreas and cause type 2 diabetes.

    Theres good evidence that having obstructive sleep apnea puts you at increased risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and death, says James Rowley, MD, professor of medicine and division chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

    Though for other complications that have been linked to sleep apnea, its still unclear whether having sleep apnea puts you at a higher risk for the condition, or if sleep apnea is actually a result of having the underlying condition, explains says Chervin. Its not clear which is causing which, he says. This is the case for complications, such as asthma and metabolic syndrome.

    Regardless of causes, the list of health conditions you should be aware of that can be related to sleep apnea include:

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    Psychological Effects Of Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea can result in poor sleep quality, which can have a psychological effect on overall well-being. Many people with sleep apnea report that poor sleep leads to daytime sleepiness. This excessive daytime fatigue may affect concentration and the ability to be attentive and feel present.

    Chronic lack of sleep can also lead to irritability and the inability to control and balance ones moods. Ongoing sleep apnea has been found to be linked to heightened anxiety and a higher rate of depression. Studies have found that this higher likelihood of developing depression6 and anxiety is linked to changing levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide during the night.

    Some people may also experience anxiety caused by managing their sleep apnea with a CPAP machine. The use of CPAP machines has been known to make some people feel claustrophobic or anxious about the feel or sound of the machine on their face during sleep.7

    First What All Types Of Sleep Apnea Have In Common

    Because these awakenings are typically very brief, the person with sleep apnea may not even be aware that they are experiencing interrupted sleep. But the episodes can wreak havoc on the sleep cycle and prevent the person with sleep apnea from reaching the deep, restful phases of sleep. And thats why people who have sleep apnea can experience significant exhaustion and drowsiness the next day, despite getting what they thought was a full night of sleep.

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    How Should Your Cpap Mask Fit On Your Head

    • The top of the mask should be at the bridge of your nose.
    • The bottom of the mask should be about halfway between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip.
    • The edge of the mask should be close to the sides of your nose without actually touching it.
    • The smallest mask that fits is usually the best choice.
    • Its okay if a little air leaks from the mask, as long as its not blowing into your eyes.
    • You shouldnt have to pull the headgear very tightly to control leaks.

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