Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when conditions exist that obstruct the airway during sleep, causing the person to stop breathing for short periods of time during the night. The frequency of these events varies from individual to individual, but some people can stop breathing over 100 times per night. When these episodes last for 10 or more seconds, the person is said to have sleep apnea. Usually when this occurs, the person partially awakens, but not enough to realize it is happening.
Sleep apnea can lead to a number of other health issues. The sleep deprivation that results from the lack of continuous sleep during the night can make a person become excessively sleepy. The drowsiness could allow them to fall asleep during the day, and it can often be severe enough to interfere with normal activities.
The interruptions in breathing that are a part of sleep apnea can mean that the body, including the brain, may not get enough oxygen. Without sufficient oxygen, symptoms like irregular heart rhythms can develop, depression can arise and trouble concentrating or irritability during the day becomes an issue. Those with sleep apnea can wake up in the morning with headaches, or during the night they may wake up suddenly with the feeling that they are choking or gasping for breath.
Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include being overweight or obese and having a large neck. Individuals with smaller-than-normal airways in the nose or throat are also at higher risk for developing it. Those who smoke or have diabetes or high blood pressure are also more likely to suffer from the condition.
It may be that your spouse or other family members have noticed some of the signs of sleep apnea before you have. If there is reason to suspect that you might have sleep apnea, our doctor may order a sleep study.
If the study confirms that sleep apnea exists and it is severe enough to warrant treatment, our doctor may recommend a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The machine will connect to a hose, which is connected to a mask that is worn on the face. The machine can be set for varying levels of air pressure that will be delivered through the hose. The exact setting will be based on the individual’s needs.
If you have suffered from any of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, you might want to have a discussion with our team at The NeuroMedical Institute. Other treatment options are also available in addition to the CPAP machine. Our office is located in Panama City. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about your options.