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What Is Considered Mild To Moderate Sleep Apnea

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Is The Mildness Of Sleep Apnea Determined By The Patients Daytime Symptoms Such As Severity Is It Frequency Of These Symptoms Or Is It Something Else

Well, believe it or not, you can be diagnosed with severe sleep apnea despite having mild — or even none whatsoever — daytime symptoms.

And likewise…you can be diagnosed with only mild sleep apnea yet have significant daytime symptoms.

Typically these are awakening with headaches, struggling to stay awake on the job or while driving, and suffering from problems with concentration.

Metabolic Abnormalities In Osa At Risk For Incident Hypertension: A Preliminary Analysis

Given the stronger association of mild/moderate OSA with incident hypertension in young and middle-aged adults as compared to older adults, we used multivariable adjusted logistic regression models to explore whether this association could be explained by a stronger association of OSA with components of the metabolic syndrome in young and middle-aged adults. presents the odds ratio 95% CI on the association between OSA and metabolic syndrome components among individuals < 60 and ?60 years old. Individuals with OSA are at higher risk for obesity , diabetes , and high TG in the younger group, but not in the older group. All interactions are significant, suggesting that the association between OSA and metabolic syndrome components is significantly different between young and old.

Treatments May Be Trial And Error Until You And Your Doctor Get It Right

When sleep apnea is mild, treatment recommendations are less clear-cut, and should be determined based on the severity of your symptoms, your preferences, and other co-occurring health problems. Working in conjunction with your doctor, you can try a stepwise approach — if one treatment doesn’t work, you can stop that and try an alternative. Managing mild sleep apnea involves shared decision-making between you and your doctor, and you should consider just how bothered you are by sleep apnea symptoms, as well as other components of your health that could be made worse by untreated sleep apnea.

What It Is Its Risk Factors Its Health Impacts And How It Can Be Treated is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

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 body’s 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 apnea’s 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.

What Are The Differences Between Mild And Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Overview and More


Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which your airway becomes blocked at numerous points during sleep, which causes you to stop breathing. This has a range of serious effects on the body—it not only hinders your immune system and increases your risk for chronic disease, but it can also lead to a shorter life span.

There are different types of sleep apnea a patient may be diagnosed with. What are the differences between mild and severe obstructive sleep apnea?

Mild Sleep Apnea Characteristics

If you’ve been diagnosed with mild sleep apnea, this means you experience between 5 and 14 different instances of cessation of breathing every hour. When you think about the standard person 8 hours, this means you could stop breathing over 100 times every single night! Mild sleep apnea may also be accompanied by fatigue during the day as well as snoring at night.

Your partner may notice that you have a restless sleep or wake frequently during the night. Typically, a person with sleep apnea will have no recollection of these periods of being unable to breathe. Although mild, this form of obstructive sleep apnea still needs to be treated.

Severe Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

How Many People Are Getting In Car Accidents Because Of Sleep Apnea

There are some interesting facts about sleep apnea, like that people with sleep apnea are at twice the risk of having a car accident. According to one 2004 study, treating all United States drivers suffering from sleep apnea would save $11.1 billion in collision costs and save 980 lives annually. The correlation between obstructive sleep apnea and driving incidents isn’t too surprising; and short sleep duration are some of the independent predictors of increased crash risk in people with sleep apnea.

Further, medical patients utilized 23% to 50% more medical resources prior to a sleep apnea diagnosis, and studies show undiagnosed moderate to severe sleep apnea in middle-aged adults may cause $3.4 billion in additional medical costs in the United States.

The Key Differences Between Mild And Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a medical condition which causes the airways to become blocked during sleep. This condition can have severe effects as it impacts adversely on the body’s immune system which increases the risk of chronic diseases.

Sleep apnea can be divided into three categories- mild, moderate and severe. This disorder can increase risk of chronic diseases and potentially damage your teeth, so today we turn our focus to the differences between mild and severe sleep apnea.

Key takeaway:

–  Mild sleep apnea means that your breathing pauses from between 5-15 episodes per hour while severe sleep apnea causes more than 30 episodes per hour. Note that any readings above 5 are abnormal.

–  Typically, mild sleep apnea causes snoring and a combination of fatigue during the day but with severe sleep apnea, this fatigue may get heightened, followed by headaches, mood swings, feelings of depression and irritability.

–  According to studies, mild sleep apnea causes slight deterioration of oxygen levels in your body but severe sleep apnea records oxygen saturation levels that are below 90% which is considered harmful. 

–  Sudden drops in oxygen levels in your body can strain the cardiovascular system thereby causing high blood pressure. 

Are you experiencing any symptoms of sleep apnea? If so, your dentist or physician can help you get a proper diagnosis so that you can get the treatment you need.


How To Know If You Have Mild Sleep Apnea And What To Do About It

    The spectrum of sleep apnea includes different kinds of it as well as different levels of severity. The most common type of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea , which is a disease that impacts 26 percent of Americans aged 30 to 70. OSA can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe.

    If you have moderate to severe OSA, there is plenty of information and treatment options available to you. However, what if you have mild sleep apnea? Should you still pursue any sort of medical intervention? Is there something you can do about it without medical advice?

    Let’s dive into the ins and outs of mild sleep apnea.

    Understand How We Treat Moderate Vs Severe Sleep Apnea In Novi

    Sleep apnea is dangerous. It occurs when your airflow is reduced significantly while you sleep or when you frequently stop breathing for short periods. This problem literally cuts off your air supply! Our team offers customized solutions for treating moderate vs. severe sleep apnea in Novi so you can:

    Read Transcript

    The difference between a moderate and a severe sleep apnea, a moderate sleep apnea would be 30 to 35 apneas during an hour or less. And a severe would be more than 35 apneas.

    I’ve had patients that have had as many as 86 during an hour. And an apnea, when it records, it means that you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more. It could be 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30, a minute, up to two minutes that you actually stop breathing.

    We treat a lot of the mild and moderate cases. If a person was severe, I would have them try the CPAP first.

    • Feel more rested and energized
    • Improve your sleep and quality of life
    • Enjoy long-term better health
    • Address weight issues related to apnea

    Start improving your sleep and your health, no matter your level of sleep apnea. Call us today at 248-264-3922 for a free consultation.

    Treating Mild Sleep Apnea: Should You Consider A Cpap Device

      Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by repeated episodes of partial or total upper airway obstruction that result in arousals from sleep, and changes in oxygen levels during sleep. OSA is one of the most common conditions I see as a sleep medicine specialist. This is not surprising, considering that OSA is estimated to affect about 20% of the general population, and is even more prevalent in patients who are obese, or who have heart or metabolic conditions like diabetes.

      When untreated, OSA can negatively impact cardiac and metabolic health, quality of life, and result in excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, problems with thinking, and depression or anxiety. OSA impacts people of all ages, backgrounds, shapes, and sizes, and while both patients and doctors have become increasingly aware about OSA and its effects over recent years, about 80% of patients with OSA still go undiagnosed.

      Mild To Moderate Sleep Apnea As A Separate Medical Category

      So, given these three clear degrees of sleep apnea, why do medical experts sometimes lump mild and moderate sleep apnea together? It’s basically a means of separating severe sleep apnea from the other types. Some researchers find it beneficial to pursue remedies or treatment options for mild and moderate sleep apnea that isn’t thought to be effective for severe sleep apnea.

      For instance, a 2007 study from the journal Sleep and Breathing categorizes mild to moderate sleep apnea patients together in an attempt to determine the effects of ramelteon as a treatment option. A 2002 study from Laryngoscope studied the effects of radiofrequency on mild to moderate sleep apnea patients, and a 2012 study published in Respirology analyzed the characteristics of both mild and moderate sleep apnea patients.

      Mild to moderate sleep apnea is also considered as something that’s separate from severe sleep apnea when it comes to prescribing treatments. Oral appliances are generally recommended for mild to moderate sleep apnea patients, and not for those with severe sleep apnea.

      If you think you have symptoms of mild to moderate sleep apnea, we encourage you to speak to your doctor. We’ve looked at common mild sleep apnea symptoms in a past blog post; in our next article, we’ll explore moderate sleep apnea symptoms.

      If You Are Concerned You Might Have Osa Talk To Your Doctor

      Based on your symptoms, exam, and risk factors, your doctor may recommend a sleep study, or you might be referred to see a sleep medicine specialist. A comprehensive sleep assessment is needed to accurately evaluate sleep complaints, since sleep disorders tend to overlap. Treatment for mild OSA may improve sleep-related symptoms and your quality of life. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to sleep disorders, but rather a multidimensional and individualized approach to find what works for you.

      Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome Should Not Be Treated

      Treatment Options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

      The diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea generally requires a presenting symptom or symptoms and the demonstration of apneas and/or hypopneas per hour of sleep on a formal sleep study. The diagnosis of mild OSA is not well defined but in a 1999 report of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine , definitions of mild OSA by symptoms of sleepiness and AHI were proposed. These definitions will be used in this review.

      Mild symptoms were an unwanted sleepiness or involuntary sleep episodes occurring during activities that require little attention. Examples included sleepiness that is likely to occur while watching television, reading, or traveling as a passenger. Symptoms produce only minor impairment of social or occupational function. Mild levels of AHI were 5 to 15 and moderate were 15 to 30.

      Although there are many studies that address treatment of OSA, relatively few focus on mild OSA. In addition, there are several potential treatment modalities. For purposes of this review, continuous positive airway pressure will be the main treatment comparator. Interventions such as attempted weight loss, sleep position, sleep hygiene, etc. will be considered part of usual care and not specific treatment of OSA.

      In 2006, The AASM published evidence-based practice parameters on the use of CPAP in the treatment of OSA. The recommendation for mild OSA was as follows:

      The evidence review that supported the above recommendation concluded as follows:

      Final Thoughts On Cpap Vs Alternatives In Mild Sleep Apnea

      If you do have one of the medical co-morbidities discussed earlier in this article, I recommend CPAP over alternative treatments. Without question, CPAP has the most robust medical literature supporting its benefit in preventing the progression of sleep apnea’s health consequences.

      If you have an aversion to CPAP and you’re healthy,  I’m more open-minded to trying CPAP alternatives. I always counsel my patients that alternatives will usually not work quite as well as CPAP and they may have some residual snoring. The way I like to frame the decision is to expect alternatives to be typically about 85-90% as effective as CPAP. Nevertheless, using something 100% of the time that is 85%-90% effective is infinitely better than 0% usage of the 100% effective CPAP machine that is collecting dust in your closet.

      Moderate Sleep Apnea Treatment Options: Lifestyle Changes

      In addition to helping ease the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea , lifestyle changes also provide the benefit of improved health in general. Here’s a guide to the most common lifestyle changes, as well as resources to help you get started with each of them.

      Weight Loss. One of the most common starting points for moderate sleep apnea treatment – or treatment of any level of OSA, for that matter – is losing weight. Why? Because obesity can swell tissues that cause obstructed breathing, which can cause sleep apnea. So, many doctors prefer to start with weight loss before moving on to more advanced treatment.

      Pro tips: There are hundreds of weight loss programs out there. If you filter out the fad diets and focus on the sensible weight loss goals themselves, you’ll find that most of them have the same elements in common. Here are some good summaries of those goals:

      • “Our 25 best weight-loss tips from over the years” from USA Today
      • “11 simple weight loss tips” from CNN
      • Overview of diet planning from the Mayo Clinic

      Tobacco cessation. If you smoke, you may be able to improve your sleep apnea symptoms by cutting out tobacco. “Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked,” reports the Mayo Clinic. “Smoking may increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway. This risk likely drops after you quit smoking.”

      Treatment Approaches Depend On The Severity Of Your Osa

      When sleep apnea is moderate or severe, continuous positive airway pressure is considered the first-line treatment, and is the recommended treatment by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine . CPAP, by eliminating snoring, breathing disturbances, and drops in oxygen saturation, can essentially normalize breathing during sleep. However, to be most beneficial, CPAP should be worn consistently throughout sleep. Unfortunately, many studies of OSA set a relatively low bar for treatment adherence , and do not necessarily take into account treatment efficacy .

      What Is The Life Expectancy Of Someone With Sleep Apnea

      A study observing sleep-disordered breathing and mortality showed “a significant, high mortality risk with untreated sleep-disordered breathing independent of age, sex, and BMI underscore the need for treatment of sleep-disordered breathing indicated by frequent episodes of apnea and hypopnea.” Sleep apnea can cause other health conditions that lead to premature death.

      What’s The Controversy About Treating Mild Sleep Apnea

      There is a lot of evidence to support the lack of a direct link between AHI and daytime sleepiness levels. This means that there are cases of sleep apnea where the person has an AHI of 5 and is barely able to keep her eyes open, but someone else might have an AHI of 100 and he reports zero daytime sleepiness. Therefore, if you have an AHI ?5 and excessive daytime sleepiness , most sleep experts would recommend treating the sleep apnea.

      However, there is disagreement in the sleep medicine community about what to do when sleepiness is not an issue and the AHI is between 5-15. The current debate centers around studies that have looked at outcomes from treating mild sleep apnea and found mixed results. Let’s delve into the background framing the discussion.

      Does Sleep Apnea Cause Other Chronic Health Conditions

      Compared to their peers without sleep abnormalities, people with sleep apnea have been found to be at an increased risk for numerous cardiovascular diseases, including irregular heartbeats, hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis , and coronary heart disease. Forty-three percent of people with mild obstructive sleep apnea and 69% of people with severe obstructive sleep apnea have hypertension. Up to 70% of stroke patients in rehabilitation have significant sleep-disordered breathing.

      Overall, insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression.

      Diagnosing And Treating Sleep Apnea For Better Health

      It’s important to treat sleep apnea, because it can have long-term consequences for your health. While there have been some high-profile deaths linked to sleep apnea—such as with Judge Antonin Scalia —Jun says that the true risk is from damage done over time.

      Obstructive sleep apnea can range from mild to severe, based on a measurement system called the apnea-hypopnea index . The AHI measures the number of breathing pauses that you experience per hour that you sleep.

      Obstructive sleep apnea is classified by severity:

      • Severe obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is greater than 30
      • Moderate obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is between 15 and 30
      • Mild obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is between 5 and 15

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      Whether or not you need treatment for sleep apnea depends on its severity, whether or not you have symptoms such as sleepiness and other health conditions. For example, if you have risk factors for heart disease, your doctor might opt to treat you even for mild sleep apnea. On the other hand, if you have a severe case of sleep apnea, your doctor might insist on treatment even if you’re not sleepy.

      Not very relaxing, right? Luckily, it’s treatable.

      Sleep Apnea Diagnosis And Oxygen Desaturation Effects

      Sleep Dentistry (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)

      Patients who develop sleep disturbances often seek the aid of a physician who commonly refers them for sleep studies. Sleep studies can yield important diagnostic information about a person’s sleep cycles, oxygen levels, and the quantity and length of breathing interruptions.

      What is the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and lower oxygen levels during sleep? How does sleep apnea lead to oxygen desaturations that may affect overall health?

      Normal And Abnormal Blood Oxygen Levels During Sleep

      Low sleep apnea oxygen level is a sign that your treatment for sleep apnea is not effective.

      Patients with breathing problems during sleep often have low oxygen levels in their blood.

      Keep in mind that anything below 90% oxygen level is dangerous to your body and require intervention. Another thing to consider is that the brain can only survive 4 minutes once oxygen is completely cut off.

      In this page you’ll learn:

      • What should your oxygen level be during sleep,
      • How sleep apnea affects the oxygen levels in your blood,
      • How oxygen levels affect your body,
      • The link between pregnancy and low oxygen levels in obese women,
      • How to monitor oxygen saturation levels,
      • What is the best finger oximeter to monitor blood oxygen levels,
      • How to treat sleep apnea oxygen level.

      What Happens To Your Body When You Have Severe Apnea

      The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has defined mild, moderate and severe sleep apnea depending on apnea and hypopnea index:

      • mild sleep apnea: apnea index between 5-15
      • moderate sleep apnea: AHI between 16-30
      • severe apnea: AHI >30

      People with AHI >30 have the most obvious symptoms of loud snoring, disturbed sleep and that affects their optimism and willingness to be treated.

      They experience stress of living with a chronic disorder, that can diminish the quality of life.

      The following video demonstrates what does severe sleep apnea looks like

      What Are The Treatment Options For Mild Sleep Apnea

      Generally, for moderate to severe sleep apnea, positive airway pressure devices, such as CPAP device, is the number one recommended treatment. But these devices would not necessarily be used as the first line of defense for a mild case.

      The treatment for Apnea might include ;

      • Positional Therapy: If your symptoms are dependent on sleeping on your back in a supine position, then this technique may help. It includes using tools that prevent rolling onto your back and keep you stay on your sides while sleeping.
      • Lifestyle Changes:The majority of people with OSA are overweight or obese. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, sleep apnea affects over 20 percent of people with obesity compared to about 3 percent of moderate weight. Therefore lifestyle change, such as losing weight, may help.
      • Oral Appliance:The oral appliance work as a first-line treatment for mild cases of sleep apnea. A dental device temporarily pushes your lower jaw forward and can prevent your throat from closing while you breathe.
      • Nasal Decongestants: If your sleep apnea is caused by allergic rhinitis, then this method could help.
      • Surgery: To help breathing, surgery could improve airflow through the nose.
      • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure :While you might try other treatment methods first, research showed that CPAP machines are also used for mild sleep apnea . With CPAP treatment, AHI improvements may be made.

      Scores For Osa Dont Always Correlate With Symptoms

      Regardless of the criteria for categorizing OSA as mild, moderate, or severe, the severity of disease does not always correlate with the extent of symptoms. In other words, some people with very mild disease can be extremely symptomatic, with excessive sleepiness or severe insomnia, while others with severe disease have subjectively good sleep quality and do not have significant daytime impairment.

      Sleep disorders also tend to overlap, and patients with OSA may suffer from comorbid insomnia, circadian disorders, sleep movement disorders , and/or conditions of hypersomnia . To truly improve a patient’s sleep and daytime functioning, a detailed sleep related history is needed, and sleep issues must be addressed via a comprehensive, multidimensional, and individualized approach.

      Treatment For Obstructed Sleep Apnoea For Children

      Large tonsils and adenoids can block the throat during sleep and cause snoring. In some cases, this is bad enough to cause poor quality sleep and severe breathing problems, called obstructive sleep apnoea .

      The more severe your child’s OSA is, the more likely it is that removing the tonsils and adenoids will help improve their health’s and quality of life. 

      Tonsillectomy is most likely to improve OSA for children with noisy breathing while asleep most nights and at least two other related problems present even when they not sick such as:

      • struggling to breathe while asleep
      • pauses in breathing during sleep
      • gasping or choking during sleep
      • persistent daytime mouth breathing
      • daytime tiredness, concentration or behaviour problems not related to other causes

      However, mild problems can get better as a child gets older without surgery. Two out of three children with mild sleep apnoea get better over six months without surgery. Waiting six months may be a good option if you are not sure. 

      Safer Care Victoria has developed a Making a decision about tonsillectomy fact sheet to support parents in making an informed decision about tonsillectomy for their child together with their child’s doctor.

      There are also fact sheets to help families understand what to do before a child’s day of tonsil surgery, what to expect and how to care for their child after this surgery. 

      See the fact sheets here:

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