Understand the Warning Signals
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a commonly underdiagnosed condition in which the patient stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer during sleep. When the brain registers the resulting drop in oxygen, it sends out a signal waking the patient up enough to take a breath. For many apnea patients, this can happen five times an hour, resulting in a 15% reduction in oxygen intake over the course of the night.
Snoring is another common problem associated with sleep apnea. In fact, few warning signs are as noticeable or disrupting as the snoring that accompanies sleep apnea. Loud snoring can keep loved ones from sleeping soundly and can cause friction in an otherwise healthy relationship.
Thankfully, relief from sleep apnea and snoring is possible with the care you can receive from Mile High Sleep Center. With Dr. Barotz’s commitment to personalized service, you’ll be matched with a solution that’s right for your individual needs and medical history.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
To answer the question of what causes sleep apnea, you have to discuss the three different types of apnea in existence.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. As you sleep, the soft tissues of the pharynx can relax in such a way as to make it more difficult for air to reach the lungs. With less oxygen in the blood, patients naturally wake up to take a breath. The narrowing of air’s path to the lungs also creates tissue vibrations. These vibrations are what you hear when someone snores.
Central Sleep Apnea
Compared with obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is much rarer and isn’t linked with any physical blockage from the tongue or lower jaw. Central sleep apnea is rooted in the patient’s brain instead. During sleep, the part of the brain responsible for controlling the patient’s breathing muscles malfunctions, preventing the patient from breathing.
Mixed Sleep Apnea/Complex Sleep Apnea
Mixed sleep apnea combines OSA with central sleep apnea and may be influenced by a patient’s weight or certain cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. Complex sleep apnea is essentially the same as mixed sleep apnea, with the exception that treating the patient’s obstruction doesn’t prevent further struggles with the condition.
Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea
As mentioned above, snoring is one of the most noticeable signs of sleep apnea, but it’s by no means the only one. Many sleep apnea patients experience a sense of drowsiness during the day. Other signs include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Abnormal sleep patterns
- Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Erectile dysfunction
- High blood pressure
- Waking up in a sweat
- Frequent accidents at home, at work, or while driving
In every case, these warning signs should be taken seriously. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a range of other serious health concerns, from high blood pressure and heart trouble to premature death.
Sleep apnea patients aren’t the only ones who can be affected by sleep apnea, of course. The snoring and the constant waking or tossing and turning that accompany sleep apnea can cause friction between loved ones.
Seeking treatment for your condition will help you resolve tensions created by poor sleep and will improve both the quality of your sleep and the quality of your overall health. Contact Dr. Barotz’s Denver office with your questions or to schedule your consultation with us.