Who gets sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders, consists of narrowing or blocking of the airway during sleep, which interrupts repeatedly breathing during the night resting period.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious, life-threatening condition that is much more prevalent than is believed. It occurs in both sexes and all age groups. It is usually more common in men, although it can be diagnosed in women. It is estimated that 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
It is important to diagnose and treat sleep apnea in time, as it is associated with the following:
- Irregular heartbeat.
- High blood pressure.
- Heart attack.
- Apoplexy (cerebral embolism).
What are the different kinds of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a respiratory disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
Central – happens when the brain is not able to send signals to muscles to start breathing. Central apnea is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive – occurs when air can not pass through the nose or mouth of the person to or from the outside, despite the efforts to breathe continue.
Who Does Sleep Apnea Affect?
Sleep apnea seems to affect some families, suggesting a possible genetic basis. People most likely to have or develop sleep apnea include those who:
- They snore loudly.
- They are overweight.
- They have high blood pressure.
- They have a physical abnormality in the nose, throat, or other parts of the upper respiratory tract.
- Consumption of alcohol and the use of sleeping pills increases the frequency and duration of breathing pauses in people with sleep apnea.
What are the characteristics of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by a series of involuntary breathing pauses or “apneic events” during sleep in a single night – 20 to 30 or more events can occur every hour. These events are almost always accompanied by snoring between episodes of apnea (although not all people who snore have sleep apnea). Sleep apnea can also be characterized by a feeling of suffocation. Frequent interruptions of deep and restful sleep often cause headaches in the mornings and excessive sleepiness during the day.
During apnea, the person is unable to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, resulting in low oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.
Decreased oxygen and increased carbon dioxide warn the brain to resume breathing, thereby awakening the person. Each time the individual wakes up, a signal is sent from the brain to the muscles of the upper airways to open the airway; Breathing is resumed, often with a loud snore or a gasp. Awakening frequently, although it is necessary to restart breathing, prevents the person from having a deep and restful sleep.
Other Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
There are minimally invasive procedures that reduce and harden the soft tissue of the soft palate. Although these procedures have been beneficial in the treatment of snoring, its long-term efficacy is not known.