Facts About Sleep Apnea

Over the years, sleep apnea has become an underdiagnosed and a common sleep disorder. During sleep apnea, the individual’s breathing patterns stops and starts unexpectedly. This happens throughout the night of sleep. There are many signs and symptoms for sleep apnea. Recent studies reveal that daytime sleepiness, restless sleep and loud snoring are prime reasons behind sleep apnea. Luckily, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated before serious health complications like depression and heart diseases surface.

What is Sleep Apnea?

The terms “Sleep Apnea” hail from a Greek word – “Apnoia”. Apnoia means “absence of respiration or without breathing”.

The sleep study center reveals that 90% of people experience sleep apnea at some time. This is an involuntary pause that happens when there is a problem in the central nervous system or the airway. The disorder was first identified in 1965 by a series of interruptions during sleep. As the airways opens and closes, the person is likely to awaken with a choking/gasping/smothering sensation or take a quick deep breath.

Factors Causing Sleep Apnea

There are several reasons behind sleep apnea. These factors contribute to the collapsing and blocking of the airway. As you sleep, airway muscles open and the tongue relaxes. This creates a narrow airway. Ideally, this movement shouldn’t block air flow in-and-out of the lungs. However, the airway gets blocked in patients with sleep apnea. This can be attributed to excessive fat stores and thick tissues around the airway. These tissues can restrict airflow and create a loud snore that is related with OSA.

As the airway gets completely blocked, snoring would stop and the person’s doesn’t breathe. If this condition exists for more than 10 to 20 seconds, the brain senses apnea and signals the muscles to become tighter. This is when airflow returns! This process can continue several 100 times every night. Factors that increase the risks of sleep apnea are:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Down syndrome
  • Menopause
  • Weight gain
  • Flat on back sleeping
  • Recessed chin
  • Large tonsils

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

People with sleep apnea will experience the following signs and symptoms: irritability, loud snoring, difficulty in concentrating, restless sleep (insomnia), heartburn, erectile dysfunction, large neck circumference (more than 15 inches in women and more than 17 inches in men), waking up many times in the middle of the night and sore throat. The sleep clinic Gaithersburg confirms that sleep apnea can cause a number of other complicated conditions.

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