What Are The Consequences Of Leaving Sleep Apnea Untreated
Seeking treatment might be uncomfortable, but it is importantthe consequences of leaving this sleep disorder are very real. In fact, an 18-year study found that people with sleep apnea were three times more likely to die from any cause during the study than healthy people. Thats right: sleep apnea patients die at three times the rate of normal sleepers. Here are just some of the health risks associated with sleep apnea.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed
If your doctor determines that you have symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea, you may be asked to have a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order an overnight sleep study to objectively evaluate for sleep apnea.
- Testing includes an overnight sleep study called a polysomnogram . A PSG is performed in a sleep laboratory under the direct supervision of a trained technologist. During the test, a variety of body functions, such as the electrical activity of the brain, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rate, breathing patterns, air flow, and blood oxygen levels are recorded at night during sleep. After the study is completed, the number of times breathing is impaired during sleep is tallied and the severity of the sleep apnea is graded.
- For adults, a Home Sleep Test can sometimes be performed instead. This is a modified type of sleep study that can be done in the comfort of home. It records fewer body functions than PSG, including airflow, breathing effort, blood oxygen levels and snoring to confirm a diagnosis of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.
An HST is not appropriate to be used as a screening tool for patients without symptoms. Its not used for patients with significant medical problems . Its also not used for patients who have other sleep disorders in addition to the suspected obstructive sleep apnea.
There Are Three Main Types Of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, according to Mayo Clinic. This type of sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax too much and interfere with your breathing.
Central sleep apnea happens when signals are not properly sent from the brain to the muscles that control breathing.
A third type of the condition, known as complex sleep apnea syndrome or mixed sleep apnea, has characteristics of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
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What Happens When You Sleep Too Much
Hypersomnia is a condition marked by sleeping too much. People with hypersomnia often experience excessive daytime sleepiness and may find it hard to stay awake when they need to. Studies indicate that hypersomnia is associated with changes in sleep architecture, such as a reduction in deep sleep and an increase in NREM sleep, which may affect overall sleep quality.
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How Common Is Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect between 2-9% of adults in the United States, but many cases are believed to go undiagnosed, which fits with studies that have found considerably higher rates of OSA. Precise prevalence is hard to determine because studies have used different criteria for diagnosing the condition. A consistent finding, though, is that OSA affects men more than women. It can occur in people of any age but is more common in older adults.
Central sleep apnea has been found to affect around .9% of adults over the age of 40. It is found much more frequently in men than in women.
As this data demonstrates, OSA is much more common than CSA. For this reason, when people talk about sleep apnea, they are generally referring to OSA.
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What Happens In Throat While Sleeping That Causes Sleep Apnea
During waking hours it is the muscles that make up the air passages that provide both rigidity and strength and for the clear passage of air into and out of the body.
As a person inhales and exhales without any problem, this exerts essential pressure on the muscles of the airways and muscles to keep them as rigid as possible and in good working order. This constant cycle of breath going freely in and out of the lungs is thought of as being an interdependent relationship.
Now while a person sleeps it is an all together diverse story. In this case, not only are you giving your mind and body a rest and plenty of relaxation but the muscles that line your mouth and throat decide to relax also. This causes a narrowing of the air passages.
For those without any sleep or breathing problems this doesnt create any extra concern whatsoever. However for those who suffer from sleep apnea a dangerous turn of events can be put into play.
Sleep apnea often involves snoring and a blockage of the airways and coupled with the relaxation mode that the mouth and throat have gone into this causes the normal airflow to be partially and/or totally blocked. Due to this, regular breathing is unable to take place.
If usual breathing is disrupted then there is very little if indeed any air flowing through that can bring about the necessary pressure on the airway muscles to keep everything running smoothly.
What Is Happening Inside Your Body
Its time to discuss whats happening inside your body when you have sleep apnea. As we said earlier sleep apnea stops you from breathing as you sleep. This begins to cut the oxygen supply to your brain.
Now we both know how important oxygen is for your brain. Studies show that after just 60 seconds of no oxygen to the brain, the damage is done that permanently alters the brains chemistry. When you are sleeping you may hold your breath for 10 seconds, 20 seconds or more.
As your brain becomes deprived of oxygen your heart works harder, increases blood pressure, and putting stress on your heart. You are also holding on to carbon dioxide which causes your blood to thicken over time, causing increase strain on the heart and poor circulation throughout the body.
Clots can form because of thinking blood, which can cause a stroke and ischemia causing a heart attack or tissue death elsewhere in the body.
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What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a respiratory disorder that is found in both children and adults. Those who exhibit it, experience either complete or partial collapse of the upper airway during sleep. This makes it hard to breathe, and can be very disruptive to a full nights sleep, in addition to disturbing your bed partner. Its analogous to breathing through a straw. When youre awake it is not so difficult as you are aware and you can increase your breathing rate, however at night you do not have this same compensatory mechanism, so it wakes you up. Obstructive sleep apnea most frequently affects older men, but can also affect women and children as well.
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Change your sleeping position: Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to position themselves against the back of your throat, blocking your airway. Therefore, experts suggest side or stomach sleeping.
Try nasal decongestants: Nasal obstruction and sleep apnea are linked, research suggests. Decongestants or antihistamines may be helpful in relieving congestion, but you should speak with your physician before using a decongestant on a regular basis.
Surgery: If none of the other treatment methods are effective, there are a few surgery options. The first is a surgery to open up the airwaylike a tonsillectomy or jaw advancement surgerybut only for people with obvious signs of anatomical airway obstruction, says Dr. Won. There is also the option of implanting an upper airway stimulator, which is like a pacemaker for the tongue thats implanted in the chest wall. This stimulates the tongue during sleep so it doesnt collapse onto and obstruct the airway, she says.
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What If I Cant Sleep During A Sleep Study
You can bring up concerns over the ability to fall asleep during the study with your referring doctor, the sleep specialist, or the technician before the test. It may be possible to use an over-the-counter sleep supplement such as melatonin to help the process of falling asleep. The technicians present for your sleep study are likely well-versed in the apprehensions felt by patients, so talking it through with them may help settle any uneasiness.
Relaxing breathing techniques, meditation tracks, or a book on tape can be helpful to have as a backup, and it’s a good idea to avoid caffeine and naps the day you check in for the study.
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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What Happens If You Have Insomnia
People with insomnia have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep for as long as they want to, which means that they get insufficient total sleep. As a result, they may not progress through enough sleep cycles to get proper rest, leading to daytime sleepiness as well as negative effects on mood and thinking.
Sleep deprivation, which often occurs with insomnia, can throw off the balance of sleep architecture. For example, after going without enough sleep, people often experience a REM sleep rebound, spending a disproportionate amount of time in REM sleep. This can cause too much brain activity, which in turn can leave you feeling irritable and may worsen mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
What Happens During Sleep If You Have A Sleep Disorder
Sleep disorders can negatively affect what happens when you sleep. For example, restless leg syndrome or disrupted breathing from sleep apnea can cause frequent awakenings that interrupt the normal sleep cycle, reducing restorative sleep. Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders can lead to insufficient sleep or abnormal sleep architecture.
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Tips To Get Quality Sleep
Practicing good sleep hygiene is the best way to get quality sleep at night. Here are some ways you can improve your sleep hygiene:
- Spend time outside in the sun during the day. Exposing your body to natural light during the day can help maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
- Exercise or move your body throughout the day. Getting in at least one exercise or movement session each day is a great way to improve your sleep quality.
- Limit your nap time to no more than 20-30 minutes. There are benefits to napping. But if you nap for longer than 30 minutes, it can leave you wide awake when its finally time for bed.
- Avoid stimulants and certain foods before bed. Caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before bed can interrupt your sleep, as can foods that cause indigestion or stomach upset.
- Limit your screen time an hour before sleeping. TVs, phones, and other electronic devices emit blue light, which can interrupt the hormones that help you fall asleep.
- Create a comfortable bedroom environment. Investing in a high-quality mattress, pillow, blanket, and other relaxing bedroom items, can help you sleep better.
Incorporating these tips slowly over time can greatly improve your sleep quality. But if youre still having trouble falling or staying asleep, it may be time to visit a doctor to discuss more options.
Side Effects Of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can have serious repercussions if left untreated. This sleep disorder is identified by ongoing periods of interrupted breathing while sleeping. When this happens, breathing is either greatly reduced or temporarily stopped. There are many factors that can put people at risk for developing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea risk factors are varied, but can include obesity, being male, and the use of sedatives.1
There are three types of sleep apnea. These are: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when the throat muscles relax while sleeping, which causes the airways to narrow, making breathing difficult. The second type of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, is brought about by the brain not sending signals to the body to breathe correctly during sleep, resulting in intermittent breathing during sleep. This type of sleep apnea is often caused by other neurological conditions. Lastly, there is complex sleep apnea, which is a mixture of the first two types of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause sleep deprivation and lack of sleep effects both your mind and body.
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How Do I Get A Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Sleep apnea is diagnosed through a simple test that records metrics like your pulse, how hard it is for you to breathe, movement, brainwaves and how much oxygen is in your body. This can happen in two ways: either by visiting a sleep center, or by taking the test at home. During your test, if you experience five or more periods where you stop breathing, it is likely that youll be diagnosed with sleep apnea.
A Home Sleep Test takes place in the comfort and convenience of your home. Prior to the test, you will be instructed by a technician on how to use the home testing machine. You then go home, turn on the machine, and sleep in your own bed while the machine records metrics like your pulse and the effort required to breathe. It is a simple, comfortable way to assess if you are suffering from a sleep disorder.
3 Reasons to Have a Home Sleep Test
- Comfort: Taking the test in your own home allows you to sleep in a familiar, comfortable environment.
- Accessibility: HST is convenient because you do not have to spend the night in a sleep center. This makes it accessible to those who are homebound, such as the elderly, or those with illnesses or mobility issues.
- Cost: Home testing can be less expensive. If you have any concerns about what your insurance will cover, speak to uswere contracted and in-network with hundreds of insurance companies, keeping your costs as low as possible.
Get started today Request a Home Sleep Test today!
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Several studies have shown strong correlations between gender, age, and weight to increase your risk of experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. In particular, the most common risk factors include:
- Age and Gender: Men are up to two to three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than women, though risk factors appear to balance out once women become postmenopausal. As one ages from young adulthood to 50s and 60s the risk increases, but levels off after that.
- Obesity: Several studies have found a strong correlation between higher body mass index and obstructive sleep apnea. One study found that people who increased only 10% in weight were six times more likely to be at risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Additionally, 90% of people who suffer from hyperventilation syndrome also have obstructive sleep apnea.
- Upper airway and craniofacial abnormalities: People are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea if they exhibit abnormalities such as short mandibles, enlarged tonsils, or abnormally sized upper jaw bones.
- Neck size: Those with a larger neck , tongue, or tonsils and adenoids may be more likely to experience a blocked airway.
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Diagnosing And Treating Sleep Apnea For Better Health
Its 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 apneasuch 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 youre not sleepy.
Not very relaxing, right? Luckily, its treatable.
Increased Risk Of Accidents
Sleep apnea puts you at risk for serious accidents:
- People with sleep apnea are 2-3 times more likely to be in a car crash
- Driving while sleep-deprived is just as dangerous as driving drunkboth double the risk of being in an accident
Are you concerned about the negative effects of sleep apnea? Thankfully, sleep apnea treatment can effectively prevent or even reverse some of these negative health effects. Start with a Home Sleep Test to test for sleep apnea. Well contact your doctor to start the process.
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