Have you been experiencing breathing difficulties during sleep? You might be suffering from sleep apnea. In this article, we’ll discuss the definition of sleep apnea, enumerate its most common symptoms, causes, and health risks, and give you some of the treatment options that your doctor may advise. If you’re all set, let’s get straight into it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder wherein the patient experiences several extended pauses in breathing during sleep. These involuntary breathing lapses usually affects the patient’s supply of oxygen and quality of sleep, both of which may lead to serious health conditions. Depending on the severity of the case, the pauses in breathing can take place from five to 100 times an hour.
Sleep apnea is a common health issue in the United States, affecting about 22 million Americans. This is why the CPAP machine and CPAP cleaner industries are popular in the country.
3 Types of Sleep Apnea
A patient may suffer from any of the following types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is characterized by repetitive episodes of breathing pauses due to blockage in the airway at the back of the throat.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
CSA arises when your brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles involved in your respiratory system, leading to shallower and slower breathing.
Mixed Sleep Apnea
As its name suggests, mixed sleep apnea, also known as complex sleep apnea, applies to people who suffer from both OSA and CSA.
Signs and symptomsThe most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are, but are not limited to:
- Distorted breathing during sleep, especially when you experience pauses in breathing for up to a minute (a.k.a. apnea events)
- Loud snoring
- Uncontrolled daytime sleepiness
- Fatigue and mood swings
- Headaches in the morning
- Decreased or limited focus, learning capability, memory, motor skills, and reflexes
- Often waking at night to urinate
- Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
If you experience any of these symptoms, please speak with your doctor right away for proper diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
CausesSleep apnea can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including your lifestyle, medical condition and physical structure. Some of the most common causes, as well as the factors that may increase your risk for sleep apnea, are:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Nasal congestion
- Large tonsils, neck or tongue
- Heart or kidney failure
- Premature birth
- Sleeping on your back
- Genetic syndromes (i.e. down syndrome, cleft lip and cleft palate)
- Hormonal disorders (i.e. hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Neurological conditions (i.e. stroke, post-polio syndrome)
Sleep apnea can be diagnosed based on a sleep study, some physical exams and your medical history. Your doctor may request for blood tests and/or an ultrasound to determine if you have hormonal or endocrine problems. You may also undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram and tests for arterial blood gases.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be advised to do a CPAP therapy, the first line of treatment for sleep apnea. This requires you to acquire a CPAP machine or a bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine to help keep your airway open during sleep through wearing a mask.
If your doctor recommended you this type of treatment, please take note that you have to keep your CPAP machine clean before each use to prevent dust, germs, bacteria and other particles from entering your body and from potentially making you sick. The best way to keep your CPAP machine clean is by using an efficient CPAP cleaner that can remove bacteria up to 99.99%.
Here at CleanFlash®, we offer a CPAP machine cleaner that uses both ozone and UV light for safer and more effective cleaning. Our product comes with a two-year warranty, is lightweight, portable, user-friendly, and uses only one button to start/stop.
Some doctors advise patients with mild sleep apnea to visit their dentist or an orthodontist for a custom-fit mouthpiece device that they can wear while they sleep. These mouthpieces can help open your upper airway for easier breathing.
If you have severe OSA and do not respond to a CPAP machine or a mouthpiece, you may be recommended to undergo a surgery that removes the tonsils, a surgery that moves the upper and lower jaw forward to make way for the upper airway, or a surgery that makes a hole from the front of your neck or windpipe to help you breathe better.
Aside from the abovementioned treatment options, your doctor may also recommend you to make lifestyle changes to help control or treat your breathing difficulties during sleep. These may include losing weight, avoiding smoking and drinking, sleeping on your side, eating heart-healthy food and exercising on a regular basis.
Health Risks Linked to Sleep ApneaIf left untreated, sleep apnea may increase your risk for chronic, serious or life-threatening conditions or problems such as:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Liver problems
- Memory loss
- Weakened immune system
Since sleep apnea can leave you mentally foggy and less attentive, it may also put you at risk for accidents, falls and other injuries.
Sleep apnea affects millions of adults in the United States. But the good thing is, this condition is treatable. If you are suffering from sleep apnea and are using a CPAP machine for treatment, our cost-effective CPAP sanitizer can help you keep your machine safe and ready before each use.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
American Sleep Apnea Association
Sleep Review Mag
Raleigh Capitol ENT