Recent studies by The American Sleep Association show that 50-70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep apnea. These figures demonstrate how common sleep apnea is, but unfortunately, there isn’t too much information out there about this disorder.
Sleep apnea is expressed when patients sleep, so it can remain undiagnosed for a long time. Through this blog, we aim to shed some light on this frequent and severe health issue and encourage our patients to pay attention to its signs and symptoms.
What is Sleep Apnea?
People with sleep apnea suffer from episodes in which they unconsciously stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer. These episodes happen while patients are sleeping and have a negative effect on their bodies. During these seconds, the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, and this hypoxia can only be reversed by triggering an automatic alarm response. The brain needs to wake the patient up and make them breathe voluntarily to get the oxygen it needs.
The apnea episodes are repeated many times overnight, constantly interrupting the patient’s sleep. As a result, patients don’t get a restful night of sleep, and in severe cases, this condition can cause sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation deeply affects life quality, and it can be dangerous for those patients that need to be several hours behind the wheel. When left untreated, severe cases of sleep deprivation can also cause metabolic alterations, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and heart conditions in the long run.
Forms of Sleep Apnea
There are three different types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea:
Also known as OSA, Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. It is caused by a mechanical blockage of the patient’s upper airway. During these episodes, which repeatedly occur during nighttime, the tongue collapses against the back of the throat, interrupting the normal airflow to the lungs. This obstruction is only resolved when the patient experience what is known as “arousal,” which implies a partial awakening.
Central sleep apnea: related to the nervous systems
Central sleep apnea is related to the nervous system. The patients’ brain fails to send signals to the respiratory muscles, so, although there’s no blockage in the airways, the lungs don’t receive enough air. It’s difficult to determine what causes the episodes, as multiple factors can trigger this neurological problem, and its treatment usually requires interdisciplinary medical attention.
Mixed sleep apnea:
Doctors have recently identified a third type of sleep apnea. This disorder is also known as Complex Sleep apnea and is a combination of both obstructive and central apnea events.
Sleep Apnea Signs and Symptoms
Although there are different forms of sleep apnea, they all present similar signs and symptoms. The most common ones are the following:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air while sleeping
- Stop breathing for some seconds while sleeping
- Morning headaches
- Daytime sleepiness
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Salt Lake City & Riverton, UT.
If you suffer from sleep apnea or are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with Board-Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr. Derrick Gale of Gale Facial Plastics. Dr. Gale can help you discover which form of apnea you suffer from and propose a treatment for this disorder. Find relief from sleep apnea and snoring by scheduling a consultation at Gale Facial Plastics today.