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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

It is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These episodes, called apneas (without breath), each last long enough so one or more breaths are missed and occur repeatedly throughout sleep. There are two distinct forms of sleep apnea; Central and Obstructive. In Central Sleep Apnea, breathing is interrupted by the lack of effort while in Obstructive Sleep Apnea, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite effort. Regardless of type, an individual affected with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. These episodes, called apneas, can last from a few seconds to several minutes and can occur 30 or more times per hour. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite the effort to breathe. This can cause loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

Causes of sleep apnea

There are several types of sleep apnea, including obstructive sleep apnea & central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, causing a person to stop breathing for brief periods during sleep. Central sleep apnea is caused by your brain not telling your muscles to breathe and take in oxygen. Central sleep apnea can be caused by serious health conditions like Parkinson’s, heart failure, strokes, and kidney failure to name a few. It can also be caused by medications like opiates which can obstruct your breathing patterns during the night. 

Other risk factors for sleep apnea include obesity, family history of sleep apnea, and certain medical conditions like high blood pressure.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is obvious in some cases. Your partner may notice you have loud snoring that’s keeping them awake at night. You may also notice that you wake up choking or gasping for air, that you’re very tired during the day, or that you frequently have morning headaches. These symptoms can be major disruptors to your sleep and daily life. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems if it’s left untreated. 

Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

Loud snoring: This is generally the most apparent and noticeable symptom of sleep apnea.

You stop breathing during sleep: These episodes can last from a few seconds to several minutes and can occur 30 or more times per hour.

Choking or gasping in the middle of the night: This may occur during episodes of breathing cessation as you’re trying to open your airway.

Excessive daytime sleepiness: This is caused by the many interruptions to your sleep during the night.

Morning headaches: These can be caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain during episodes of apnea.

Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia) or not feeling refreshed after a night's sleep.

Difficulty with memory and concentration

Irritability or mood changes

Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking

Decreased libido

You may experience all or some of the above symptoms. Having a few does not mean that you don’t have sleep apnea. If you or your partner notice some of the symptoms above, reach out to the Sleep & CPAP Center to schedule a sleep test.

Diagnosis of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is diagnosed with a physical and sleep study conducted at a licensed sleep center. At The Sleep & CPAP Center, we offer both in-house and home sleep testing to help diagnose sleep apnea. Sleep tests will measure your sleep patterns, breathing routines, and other indicators to determine whether or not you’re suffering from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea treatment options

Sleep apnea can be treated in several ways. Your treatment may include a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) that maintains positive air pressure through a mask to keep your airway open during sleep. Another option for sleep apnea is the use of oral appliances. Oral appliances reposition your jaw and tongue to prevent your airway from collapsing during the night. Many people prefer to use oral appliances since they don’t require the use of a machine and mask. Regardless of whether you use a CPAP machine or oral appliance, lifestyle changes such as losing weight and avoiding alcohol are recommended to help alleviate symptoms.  

Our Rancho Cucamonga sleep apnea doctors are here to help

Our Rancho Cucamonga sleep apnea doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. Our centers are staffed by qualified sleep specialists who have the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat sleep apnea conditions. Proper diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea is crucial to alleviating the symptoms and helping you get the restful sleep you need. Reach out to our sleep specialists today to schedule your sleep study and get the right treatment for your sleep apnea. 

If you’re ready to treat your sleep apnea, call the sleep lab at (909) 987-3535 or contact our recommended board-certified dental sleep medicine specialist at (909) 941-2811 to begin your dental consultation today.