Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.
Types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep, causing a blockage of the airway (as well as loud snoring).
- Central sleep apnea is a much less common type of sleep apnea that involves the central nervous system, rather than an airway obstruction. It occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. People with central sleep apnea seldom snore.
- Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Male gender
- Being overweight
- Being over the age of forty
- Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
- Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
- Having a family history of sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
- Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks
- Worsening of ADHD
In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, as well as academic underachievement in children and adolescents.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Common Symptoms include:
- Loud and chronic snoring
- Choking, snorting, or gasping during sleep
- Waking up with a very sore and/or dry throat
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Sleepiness while driving
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
- Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
If you do suspect that you have Sleep Apnea, it is important that you seek medical advice. There are effect treatments that can make living with Sleep Apnea easier and more manageable, however, if it is left untreated that it can lead to more serious medical conditions.
AMAC, Inc. recommends that you always consult your personal physician before making any health care decisions.