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When Does Sleep Apnea Develop

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy

Sarah Obican, M.D.

If you’re like most expectant women, you’re probably finding it harder and harder to sleep now that you’re growing a baby. Over three-quarters of all pregnant women say they experience more sleep disturbance — and while it may make for one tired mom-to-be, it’s still considered very normal. 

Less typical, however, is obstructive sleep apnea , a condition that strikes more often during pregnancy and causes your breathing to start and stop repeatedly during sleep. Since apnea deprives your body of oxygen, it can be serious for both you and your baby on board. 

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, read on for more about the causes of this condition and the warning signs to watch for. And if you’ve already been diagnosed with OSA, treatment can help you get more of the sleep both you and your developing baby need. 

What Are The Warning Signs Of Sleep Apnea

If you have a partner, he or she may hear your loud snoring and sudden gasps for air caused by OSA before you do. Still, the toll that restless sleep and decreased oxygen takes may become more noticeable to you during the daytime. 

If you often fall asleep while reading, watching TV, working at the computer or sitting in traffic, or if you’re feeling especially irritable, impatient and forgetful, it’s definitely time to talk to your practitioner.

Other signs of OSA include waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth, nighttime sweating and a decreased libido. And people with apnea often experience morning headaches too. So if you find yourself popping a Tylenol as soon as you get out of bed, consider sleep apnea as a possible culprit.

To diagnose sleep apnea, your doctor will evaluate your signs and symptoms and examine your mouth, nose and throat. 

He or she may also refer you to a sleep specialist for another test called a polysomnography. This study — done at home or in a lab — will measure your airflow, breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels and other factors while you sleep to confirm a case of sleep apnea.  

Va Ratings For Sleep Apnea In Veterans

If a veteran requires a continuous positive airway pressure device, the VA disability rating for sleep apnea is at 50 percent or above. With increased claims, the rating schedule for sleep apnea is expected to be included in the VA’s overhaul of the rating schedule , though no recent changes.

The most current disability rating and severity of symptoms can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations – 38 CFR 4.97 Schedule of ratings—respiratory system:

? 100% – chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention, the need for a tracheostomy, or cor pulmonale. Cor pulmonale is the enlargement or failure of the right side of the heart due to lung disease.

? 50% – if a veteran requires the use of a breathing assistance device, such as a CPAP machine

? 30% – the Veteran is experiencing persistent daytime hypersomnolence

? 0% – if the Veteran’s status is asymptomatic but has a documented sleep disorder

If your VA Disability claim for Sleep Apnea has been denied, do not give up the fight! We have helped thousands of Veterans get what they deserve, including winning sleep apnea claims! When you’re ready, is the fastest way to get started.

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 night’s sleep, in addition to disturbing your bed partner.  It’s analogous to breathing through a straw.  When you’re 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.

Family History And Genetics

Why Do We Develop Sleep Apnea?

Researchers have identified family history as a risk factor for sleep apnea, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can decrease this risk. Studies in twins have shown that sleep apnea can be . Some of the related to sleep apnea are associated with the structural development of the face and skull and with how the brain controls sleep and breathing during sleep. Some genes are also associated with obesity and inflammation.

Does Altitude Affect Sleep Apnea

July 02, 2020•obstructive sleep apneasleep apnea

Depending on what type of sleep apnea you have, there will be different factors to account for, such as weight loss to help with obstructive sleep apnea and changing medication to help with central sleep apnea. But something that affects all types of sleep apnea is altitude, specifically, high altitude.

What You Can Do To Improve Sleep

There are several steps you can take in order to sleep better. The first step is to make sure that your asthma is under good control. You may have to visit with your health care provider to be evaluated. This will help to insure that you are getting the right medical treatment. You can then develop a series of steps to take, to control your asthma and guide you through an episode of sudden breathlessness.

Your provider will instruct you when to use your rescue inhaler or pursed lip breathing, and what questions to ask yourself about your condition, should you experience any sudden breathlessness. Also, talk to your health care provider if you have nasal congestion or get heartburn, to get them under better control. If you , quitting smoking will not only help your asthma, but the quality of your sleep will also improve. Tell your health care provider if you think you may have sleep apnea so that you can be evaluated. Sleep apnea is a treatable condition!

How To Manage Sleep Apnea At Higher Altitude

For those who have sleep apnea and either live at a higher altitude or are going to visit a high altitude location, there are some steps you can take to better manage your sleep apnea.

  • Use a positive airway pressure machine – If you aren’t already using an AutoPAP, CPAP, or other positive airway pressure device to help with your sleep apnea, you need one. With an APAP machine to support your airway throughout the night, you can enjoy more restful sleep and prevent a number of comorbid issues that come with a loss of REM sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water – Being hydrated is essential for good blood circulation, which allows for oxygen to move through your body. As the air is thinner and drier at higher elevations, it is important that you keep hydrated to help compensate for your body’s increased demand. 
  • Consider medication – has pointed to the medication acetazolamide as being helpful not only with altitude sickness but also helpful for those with obstructive sleep apnea. While it is not a long-term solution, you may want to talk to your doctor about your options if you are making a trip to a high altitude area. 

If you are unsure that you have the right equipment to manage your sleep apnea, you can stop by to find premier sleep apnea equipment. 

What Is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that happens when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night.

If it’s not treated, sleep apnea can cause a number of health problems, including , , , heart failure, and heart attacks. Untreated sleep apnea can also be responsible for job impairment, work-related accidents and motor vehicle crashes, as well as underachievement in school in children and adolescents.

There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs as repetitive episodes of complete or partial upper airway blockage during sleep. During an apneic episode, the diaphragm and chest muscles work harder as the pressure increases to open the airway. Breathing usually resumes with a loud gasp or body jerk. These episodes can interfere with sound sleep, reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs, and cause heart rhythm irregularities.
  • In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center. Central apnea is related to the function of the central nervous system.

Treatment Options For Hypoxia & Hypoxemia

Since both hypoxemia and hypoxia are caused by low blood oxygen levels, the goal of treatment is to raise the amount of oxygen being delivered to the red blood cells and therefore, organ tissues. Oxygen therapy is the most common form of treatment. By providing supplemental oxygen, you have the ability to increase the amount of oxygen being contained in each breath and therefore, reduce symptoms.

This can either be fulfilled by using a full oxygen tank or more commonly with an oxygen concentrator. This machine works by taking outside air and filtering it so that you don’t receive unwanted gases and are left with pure oxygen. 

In cases where the individual is also experiencing Sleep Apnea, CPAP or BiPAP therapy is successful in regulating breathing at night and can be helpful in managing the symptoms of both hypoxemia and hypoxia. However, it is always recommended that you seek advice from a medical professional before you explore whether these are possible treatment options for you. 

CPAP therapy

Screening For Sleep Apnea

To screen for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, your doctor may ask you about common signs and symptoms of this condition, such as how sleepy you feel during the day or when driving, and whether you or your partner has noticed that you snore, stop breathing, or gasp during your sleep. Your doctor may ask questions to assess your for developing this condition and take your physical measurements. Your doctor will also want to see whether you have any complications of undiagnosed sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure that is difficult to control. If the screening suggests a sleep breathing disorder, you may get a referral to a sleep specialist to help confirm a .

Its High Stakes Whether Your Sleep Apnea Will Get Worse Over Time

 Living with sleep apnea can be pretty frustrating.

Sleep apnea snoring can also make for miserable nights for a bedmate.

So, it’s understandable if you’re curious whether your sleep apnea will get worse over time.

Maybe your symptoms are mild and you’re wondering whether you need to do anything at all.

Or perhaps, your sleep apnea was under control and lately things just seem to be getting worse.

Regardless of the reason, it’s a good question to ask, because the stakes are high.  We know what sleep apnea can do to ruin someone’s life.

It’s a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep.  The breathing interruptions cause you to fall out of restorative deep sleep into a lighter sleep which is why you wake up feeling like you didn’t sleep at all.

And when this happens night after night, it can take a huge toll on you, your sleep, and your relationships.

Sleep patterns are known to change as part of the normal aging process.  As you get older, you spend less time in deep sleep.

Older people generally have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep.  And according to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 44% experience insomnia symptoms at least a few nights each week.

But what you’re really wondering is what happens with sleep apnea as time goes by.

Can it really get worse as you get older or if left untreated?

Should you stay the course or try doing something different?

Let’s take a look at what the research says and what you can do about it.

Causes Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Secondary to PTSD? It’s time to start thinking ...

In children, the most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. Both the tonsils and adenoids are lymph tissue. The tonsils are located in the back of the throat, and the adenoids are located at the back of the nose. During sleep there is a considerable decrease in muscle tone, which affects the airway and breathing. Many of these children have little difficulty breathing when awake; however, with decreased muscle tone during sleep, the airway becomes smaller, and the tonsils and adenoids block the airway. This makes the flow of air more difficult, and increases the work the child has to do to breathe. It can be compared to breathing through a small, flimsy straw with the straw occasionally collapsing and blocking airflow. Many of the short pauses in breathing cause a brief arousal that increases muscle tone, opens the airway, and allows the child to resume breathing.

Although the actual number of minutes of arousal during the night may be small, the repeated disruptions can result in a poor night’s sleep, which can lead to significant daytime problems in children. The child is usually unaware of waking up because he/she is not waking up completely. The parents often describe the child as a very restless sleeper.

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 that’s 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 isn’t 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 you’re asleep, countered side pillows or body pillows may help.

After Facial Surgery Tammy Says Goodbye To Years Of Sleep Apnea

Before coming to Mayo Clinic, Tammy Olson had been told the severe obstructive sleep apnea she’d been living with for years was beyond treatment. After meeting Christopher Viozzi, M.D., D.D.S., a Mayo Clinic oral and maxillofacial surgeon, however, Tammy found the help she so desperately needed.

Tammy Olson was at the end of her rope physically and emotionally. Years of living with the worsening symptoms and effects of severe obstructive sleep apnea had taken their toll on her life, her family and her marriage.

To make matters worse, after failing to respond to continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, therapy and traditional sleep apnea surgical treatments, a local specialist was at a loss for what to do next. “After evaluating me and seeing just how bad things were, he said, ‘I’m sorry, but there’s nothing left we can do for you,’ and then just sent me back home,” Tammy says.

Tammyknew the dark reality of what that dismissal meant for her. “My apnea wasso bad that I’d stop breathing for up to 30 seconds at a time,” she says. “Iknew my organs couldn’t go on living without oxygen for that long forever. Eventually,over time, I knew this would likely kill me.”

The Effects Of Sleep Apnea On The Body

Elaine K. Luo, M.D.Stephanie Watson

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing repeatedly pauses while you sleep. When this happens, your body wakes you up to resume breathing. These multiple sleep interruptions prevent you from sleeping well, leaving you feeling extra tired during the day.

Sleep apnea does more than make you sleepy, though. When left untreated, it can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other long-term health risks.

Sleep apnea happens when your airway becomes blocked or collapses during the night. Each time your breathing restarts, you might let out a loud snore that wakes both you and your bed partner.

Many health conditions are linked to sleep apnea, including obesity and high blood pressure. These conditions, coupled with the lack of sleep, can harm many different systems in your body.

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Okay Why Would My Sleep Apnea Get Worse Over Time

Okay, why would my sleep apnea get worse over time?

Right now, you’re probably wondering what causes obstructive sleep apnea to worsen as you get older.

First off, aging does affect the brain’s ability to keep throat muscles stiff still during sleep.  Also, older people are also believed to have more sleep apnea because of the increased fat in the neck area which changes the areas around the pharynx.

And women are more likely to develop sleep apnea after menopause.

There are other risk factors for sleep apnea that come into play as you get older:

1) Weight

This is by far the biggest risk factor for sleep apnea.  If you’re overweight, you’re likely to have extra tissue in the throat which can fall down and block the airway.

Did you know that 70% of adult OSA patients are obese?  Patients with mild OSA who gain just 10% of their body weight are at a six-fold risk for their sleep apnea getting worse.

So, if you’ve lately been putting on the pounds its no surprise if your sleep apnea is more noticeable.

2) Other medical problems

As you get older, you encounter more medical problems which can lead to more sleep problems.  Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are directly associated with higher rates of sleep apnea.

So, if you’re dealing with health issues you didn’t have before, that’s another reason your sleep apnea could get worse with time.

3) Medications

Have you started taking a new prescription lately?  Many medications can aggravate snoring and sleep apnea. 

Six Facts About Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder that repeatedly causes you to stop breathing during sleep. Warning signs include loud snoring and gasping or choking sounds as you sleep.

Chances are, sleep apnea will impact your life in one way another. It may affect you, your bedpartner, or another family member. Here are six facts about sleep apnea to keep in mind.

1. There are two types of sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is most common. It occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. You try to breathe but can’t. Central sleep apnea occurs due to instability in your body’s breathing control system. Your body stops trying to breathe during sleep.

2. Sleep apnea can occur at any age, even in infants.

Central sleep apnea can occur in infants. It may be a developmental problem or the result of another medical condition. More common is pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. In children, sleep apnea is often caused by large tonsils and adenoids that block the airway during sleep.

3. Sleep apnea increases with age.

4. Sleep apnea is often undiagnosed.

It is estimated that about 23.5 million U.S. adults who have sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. Too many people fail to recognize that . One study also found that women tend to underreport snoring and underestimate its loudness. Women also may be more likely than men to report symptoms such as fatigue or insomnia.

5. Untreated, severe apnea can affect your health.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

How Does Sleep Apnea Impact Oral Health?

Continuous positive airway pressure

For moderate to severe sleep apnea, the most common treatment is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure or automatic positive airway pressure device. These splint the person’s airway open during sleep by means of pressurized air. The person typically wears a plastic facial mask, which is connected by a flexible tube to a small bedside CPAP machine.

Although CPAP therapy is effective in reducing apneas and less expensive than other treatments, some people find it uncomfortable. Some complain of feeling trapped, having chest discomfort, and skin or nose irritation. Other side effects may include dry mouth, dry nose, nosebleeds, sore lips and gums.

Whether or not it decreases the risk of death or heart disease is controversial with some reviews finding benefit and others not. This variation across studies might be driven by low rates of compliance—analyses of those who use CPAP for at least four hours a night suggests a decrease in cardiovascular events.

Getting Tested For Sleep Apnoea

If a GP thinks you might have sleep apnoea, they may refer you to a specialist sleep clinic for tests.

At the clinic, you may be given devices that check things like your breathing and heartbeat while you sleep.

You’ll be asked to wear these overnight so doctors can check for signs of sleep apnoea.

You can usually do this at home, but sometimes you may need to stay in the clinic overnight.

The test can show if you have sleep apnoea and how severe it is. This is based on how often your breathing stops while you sleep .

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

Sleepfoundation.org is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process

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 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.


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