Sleep Apnea Symptoms: Tired of Being Tired?
Causes of Sleep Apnea: What You Might Not Know But Should
CPAP: A Common Solution For a Common Problem
Everyone snores a little, right? Especially after a night of Happy Hour cocktails. But have you ever heard someone snore loudly followed by a deafening silence? Or has anyone told you that it sounds like you choke in your sleep? Because these are actually signs of sleep apnea, snoring's sinister stepsister. Someone with sleep apnea stops breathing in their sleep — usually for a few seconds and 5-30 times (or more) per hour. Obviously, any disruption of oxygen to the brain can be dangerous. And over time, sleep apnea can cause more serious health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. So if you have signs of sleep apnea, don't shrug it off. See a sleep apnea doctor for a sleep apnea test as soon as possible. While sleep apnea cures don't yet exist, many treatments have proven highly successful.
Q: What's the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?
A: Snoring occurs when the airway is blocked and the soft palate and uvula produce a vibrating sound. Sleep apnea is Greek for "without breath," which means that a person stops breathing in their sleep. While snoring is mostly benign, sleep apnea is a serious condition that can result in high blood pressure, memory problems and, in some cases, impotency.
Q: What are some common signs of sleep apnea?
A: The reason why people confuse some of the most common signs of sleep apnea with snoring is because the two often occur together: a loud snore followed by silence or snoring in a way that sounds muffled or like the person's choking. Other signs of sleep apnea are most obvious during waking hours — feeling groggy throughout the day, having difficulty concentrating, forgetting things, and nodding off easily.
Q: Am I at risk for sleep apnea?
A: Some factors may indicate a higher risk for sleep apnea: obesity, a large neck or recessed chin, heart disease and the frequent use of alcohol or tobacco products. According to the Sleep Apnea Association, certain ethnic groups may also be at increased risk, including African-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Mexicans.
Q: If there are no sleep apnea cures, what are my options?
A: A sleep apnea doctor can prescribe a sleep apnea test and sleep apnea treatment, but technically, there are no sleep apnea cures. A sleep apnea test, also known as a sleep study, may take place overnight, over a couple of nights or during the day, depending on what your sleep apnea doctor advises. The purpose of the sleep study is to measure things like brain wave activity, muscle activity (e.g. teeth grinding and leg twitching), heart rate, breath flow, breathing depth and oxygen saturation. If your sleep apnea test shows evidence of sleep apnea, your sleep apnea doctor will determine a course of treatment. Oftentimes, the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device, which delivers a steady stream of oxygen through a mask, is prescribed for obstructive sleep apnea. However, your sleep apnea doctor may prescribe other options include using an oral appliance or getting oral surgery. While treatments aren't technically considered sleep apnea cures, they can help prevent signs of sleep apnea from getting worse and improve your quality of sleep and life.