Sleep Apnea Treatment Q&A
Sleep apnea is a common and serious sleeping disorder that happens when your regular breathing is interrupted during sleep. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, connect with us at Southern ENT Associates. Our team of board-certified doctors and surgeons is dedicated to getting you the quality treatment you need. Contact us today for more information or schedule an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Thibodaux LA, Houma LA, Raceland LA, Morgan City LA, New Iberia LA, and Youngsville LA.
Table of Contents:
What is sleep apnea?
What is the main cause of sleep apnea?
What are the warning signs of sleep apnea?
Is sleep apnea serious?
Sleep apnea is a medical disorder that causes you to temporarily stop breathing while asleep. This can be caused by a blockage or when the brain doesn’t regulate your breathing properly. While sleep apnea is a common condition, it can prevent restful and healthy rest and can cause serious complications if left untreated.
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes disrupted breathing, or a lapse in breathing altogether, while you’re asleep. This is caused by either a blockage in the airway or because your brain is not controlling your breathing properly. The lack of oxygen triggers a survival reflex that wakes you up and allows you to continue breathing. While this reflex is protective and keeps oxygen circulating in the body, it also disrupts your sleep cycle and can cause severe medical conditions when left untreated.
There are three main types of sleep apnea, each with key differences in what causes them to develop. They are:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The most common type of sleep apnea occurs when muscles located in your head and neck relax while you’re sleeping. The result is the tissue that presses down on your windpipe and obstructs air from passing through it.
Central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea happens when your brain isn’t doing its job properly and doesn’t send signals to keep your breathing-related muscles working as they should. Central sleep apnea can be caused by:
• Heart failure
• Low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia)
• Damage to your brainstem, spinal cord, or other parts of your nervous system
• Conditions that affect the nervous system (such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS))
Complex sleep apnea. This type of apnea is caused by a combination of factors found in its obstructive and central apnea relatives.
Sleep apnea can be difficult to recognize at first as the most noticeable symptoms, such as diminished or stopped breathing, are often experienced while you’re asleep. However, you may have sleep apnea if you have any one or more of the following symptoms:
• Daytime sleepiness
• Disrupted breathing while asleep that is witnessed by others
• Disruptions in brain function, such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, and other cognitive issues
• Feeling exhausted you wake up, even after a full night’s rest
• Feeling restless at night
• Headaches, most commonly when waking up
• Mood changes
• Night sweats
• Sexual dysfunction
• Unusual breathing patterns
• Waking up feeling breathless or like you may be choking.
• Waking up repeatedly in the night
If any of these symptoms are present, it may be indicative of sleep apnea. However, a sleep specialist will need to examine you to determine if this is the case or if there is a different underlying issue causing your symptoms.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition when left untreated as it can cause severe complications that are potentially life-threatening. These include:
• Heart damage and heart failure. Sleep apnea puts an incredible amount of strain on the blood vessels around your heart and on the chambers of your heart. Over time, this can cause serious damage to the heart muscle and can result in the heart going into failure. It can also cause arrhythmias to develop.
• Stroke. Arrhythmias developed because of sleep apnea disrupts blood flow throughout the heart, causing blood to pool where it shouldn’t. This can lead to blood clots that exit your heart and travel to your brain, resulting in stroke.
• Sudden cardiac death. Sleep apnea can create arrhythmias that are so severe that they can stop your heart completely.
• Daytime drowsiness. While this condition may not seem dangerous at face value, it can have an incredible impact on your life and the lives of those around you. There are deadly implications to falling asleep while doing tasks that require full awareness – such as driving, operating heavy machinery, or working a job that requires the highest level of astuteness.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, or need help managing your symptoms and getting treatment, contact us at Southern ENT Associates. Our team of knowledgeable and friendly medical professionals can get you on the path to the care you need for a better quality of life. We serve patients from Thibodaux LA, Houma LA, Raceland LA, Morgan City LA, New Iberia LA, Youngsville LA, and surrounding areas!
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