Sleep Apnea

by Eric Martin
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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a general term for a group of conditions with an abnormal breathing pattern during sleep. This can impact life in many ways, from everyday functioning to health and well-being. 

Knowing more about these conditions can help you talk with a doctor about your symptoms and get appropriate treatment. Therefore, here is presenting this article explaining everything you need to know about the disorder, and also provide answer to the  million dollar question can sleep apnea go away?

What is Sleep Apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

OSA, or breathing difficulties during sleep, is associated with various health issues and risk factors for health, affecting your quality of life.

Types of OSA include:

  • Upper airway resistance – difficulty getting air through the upper airway
  • Hypopnea– shallow breathing
  • Apnea – pausing of breathing during sleep
  • Catathrenia – groaning or moaning while exhaling
  • Heavy snoring

What are the Symptoms of Sleep-Disordered Breathing?

People with SDB can have daytime symptoms as a result of poor sleep quality, including:

What are the Symptoms of Sleep-Disordered Breathing?
  • Sleepiness, which is sometimes excessive
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Cognitive dysfunction (memory or concentration problems)
  • Symptoms during the night may include:
  • Snoring loudly
  • Reports from your bed partner that you sometimes stop breathing in addition to snoring
  • Waking up with dry mouth/sore throat/headache
  • Woke up suddenly, short of breath
  • Having trouble staying asleep
  • Groaning or moaning during sleep
  • Decreased interest in sex

What is the Treatment for Sleep-Disordered Breathing?

Treatment can vary depending on your diagnosis, your overall health, and any other conditions you might have. In addition, there is also standard process sleep apnea inclusive of therapies that you can use to treat sleep apnea. 

Lifestyle changes

Many times the first thing that will be implemented are lifestyle changes. These may include weight loss for those who have obesity, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and positional therapy for symptoms while only on their back.

Machines

Sometimes, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines can help. These therapies involve wearing a mask while sleeping. The mask is connected to a device that provides constant airflow, and this airflow keeps your airways open.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Sleep-Disordered Breathing?

There are various risk factors for developing sleep-disordered breathing, such as:

Obesity, family history of the condition or snoring,being male, large tonsils, drinking alcohol at bedtime, being post-menopausal (for women), hypothyroidism, high levels of growth hormone (acromegaly), small lower jaw

Talk with a doctor about other risk factors and which ones may be particularly applicable to you.

What’s the Outlook for People with Sleep-Disordered Breathing?

Treatments are available to relieve symptoms and help you get a better night’s sleep. Creating a plan with a doctor, specific treatment options, and lifestyle changes, can all help you manage the symptoms and effects of sleep-disordered breathing.

Causes

When you sleep, all of the muscles in your body become more relaxed. This includes the muscles that help keep your throat open so air can flow into your lungs.

Normally, your throat remains open enough during sleep to let air pass by. Some people have a narrow throat. When the muscles in their upper throat relax during sleep, the tissues close in and block the airway. This stop in breathing is called apnea.

Loud snoring is a telltale symptom of OSA. Snoring is caused by air squeezing through the narrowed or blocked airway. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea though.

Other factors also may increase your risk:

  • A lower jaw that is short compared to your upper jaw
  • Certain shapes of the roof of your mouth (palate) or airway cause it to collapse more easily
  • Large neck or collar size, 17 inches (43 centimeters) or more in men and 16 inches (41 centimeters) or more in women
  • Large tongue, which may fall back and block the airway

Obesity

Obesity
  • Large tonsils and adenoids that can block the airway
  • Sleeping on your back can also cause your airway to become blocked or narrowed.
  • Central sleep apnea is another sleep disorder during which breathing can stop. It occurs when the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing.

List of Side Effects of Sleep Apnea:

Although, sleep apnea may not be dangerous there are few side-effects that you may have to tolerate if you suffer from this medical condition. They are as follows: 

  • If you have OSA, you usually begin snoring heavily soon after falling asleep.
  • Having dry mouth 
  • Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness 
  • Headaches  in the morning
  • Struggling for breath during sleep 
  • Finding difficulty in paying attention while awake 
  • Episodes of pause in breathing 

This Pattern Repeats Throughout the Night.

Most people with OSA do not know their breathing starts and stops during the night. Usually, a sleep partner or other family members hear the loud snoring, gasping, and snorting. Snoring can be loud enough to hear through walls. Sometimes, people with OSA wake up gasping for air.

  • People with sleep apnea may:
  • Wake up unrefreshed in the morning
  • Feel sleepy or drowsy throughout the day
  • Act grumpy, impatient, or irritable
  • Be forgetful
  • Fall asleep while working, reading, or watching TV
  • Feel sleepy while driving, or even fall asleep while driving
  • Have hard-to-treat headaches
  • Other problems that may occur include:
  • Depression
  • Hyperactive behavior, especially in children
  • Difficult to treat high blood pressure
  • Headaches, especially in the morning
  • Exams and Tests
  • Your health care provider will take your medical history and do a physical exam.
  • Your provider will check your mouth, neck, and throat.
  • You may be asked about daytime sleepiness, how well you sleep, and your bedtime habits.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Excessive Gas?

 Several individuals who are suffering from sleep apnea have a tendency to breathe from the mouth. Furthermore, breathing from the mouth results in the body taking in more air thereby triggering bloating in an individual. There is also a distinct possibility that CPAP or the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine which people having sleep apnea use may also add lots of air in the stomach to produce excess of gas.  So, the answer to the question can sleep apnea cause excessive gas? Is ‘Yes’ sleep apnea does produce too much gas in the stomach. 

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Your Blood Pressure to Go Up?

One question about this sleep disorder that you might ponder about is can sleep apnea cause your blood pressure to go up? The answer is that when an individual suffers from sleep apnea, a couple of complications do arrive along with the medical condition that includes high blood pressure and heart issues.  This mainly happens simply because there is sudden drop in blood oxygen levels in sleep apnea that helps in stimulating blood pressure. Besides, the cardiovascular system of a person having sleep apnea is also put under a lot of stress. 

You will need to have a sleep study to confirm OSA. This testing can be done in your home or a sleep lab.

  • Other tests that may be performed include:
  • Arterial blood gases
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Thyroid function studies
  • Treatment
  • Treatment helps keep your airway open while you sleep so your breathing does not stop.
  • Lifestyle changes may help relieve symptoms in people with mild sleep apnea, such as:
  • Avoid alcohol or medicines that make you sleepy before bedtime. They can make symptoms worse.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back.
  • Lose excess weight.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices work best to treat obstructive sleep apnea in most people.

  1. You wear a mask over your nose or over your nose and mouth while you sleep.
  2. The mask is connected by a hose to a small machine that sits at the side of your bed.
  3. The machine pumps air under pressure through the hose and mask and into your airway while you sleep. This helps keep your airway open.
  4. It can take some time to get used to sleeping with CPAP therapy. Good follow-up and support from a sleep center can help you overcome any problems using CPAP.
  5. Dental devices may help some people. You wear them in your mouth while you sleep to keep your jaw forward and the airway open.
  6. Other treatments may be available, but there is less evidence that they work. It is best to talk with a doctor who specializes in sleep problems before trying them.
  7. Surgery may be an option for some people. It is often the last resort if other treatments did not work and you have severe symptoms. Surgery may be used to:
  8. Remove extra tissue at the back of the throat.
  9. Correct problems with the structures in the face.
  10. Create an opening in the windpipe to bypass the blocked airway if there are physical problems.
  11. Remove the tonsils and adenoids.
  12. Implant a pacemaker-like device that stimulates the muscles of the throat to stay open during sleep.
  13. Surgery may not completely cure obstructive sleep apnea and may have long-term side effects.

Outlook (Prognosis)

  • If not treated, sleep apnea may cause:
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Daytime sleepiness because of sleep apnea can increase the risk of:
  • Motor vehicle accidents from driving while sleepy
  • Industrial accidents from falling asleep on the job
  • In most cases, treatment completely relieves symptoms and problems from sleep apnea.
  • Possible Complications
  • Untreated obstructive sleep apnea may lead to or worsen heart disease, including:
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

When to Contact a Medical Professional

  1. Call your provider if:
  2. You feel very tired and sleepy during the day
  3. You or your family notice symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea
  4. Symptoms do not improve with treatment, or new symptoms develop

Alternative Names

  • Sleep apnea 
  • obstructive 
  • adults; Apnea
  • obstructive sleep apnea syndrome 
  • adults; Sleep-disordered breathing
  • adults; OSA – adults

The takeaway

Sleep-disordered breathing can have many effects on both your health and your quality of life. There are various treatments available that can help ease your symptoms and improve your health and everyday life.Talk with a doctor about your specific symptoms and treatment plan, and ask what your options are. Together, you can develop a treatment plan that works best for you. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a problem in which your breathing pauses during sleep. This occurs because of narrowed or blocked airways.

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