- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When you lay down to sleep, gravity takes over and the airway may become blocked which result in pauses in breathing (usually lasting for ten seconds (10) or more) that can occur 5 to 30 times per hour or more. The brain then begins to realize that it is not receiving oxygen and sends signals for the heart to get working again. Your poor heart then pumps, pumps, pumps to get t he blood flowing again creating stress on the heart. Once normal breathing starts again your sleeping companion may hear snoring or you may feel like your choking. This may happen several hundred times a night. And you wonder why your not refreshed in the morning! Sleep Apnea is a serious condition that can lead to death! Yes, death. We hope that the brain sends the signal in time and that the heart starts up. Think of it like when you start your car in the morning, if you turn the key it sends a spark that travels to engine but if that spark doesn't reach that connection your car doesn't start or hesitates then starts.
- Central Sleep Apnea
Unlike Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea does not involve an obstruction (blockage). Central Sleep Apnea causes your body to decrease or even stop the effort of breathing during sleep. Your brain and heart usually have a good line of communication going to direct, monitor, and change the amount of air we breath, however, in CSA the brain and heart move abnormal amounts of air into the lungs. For more information on the different types of CSA, see the web links in the Resources page.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea
- Weight gain
- Daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Trouble concentrating
- Large neck measurement
- Irritability, anxiety, depression
If left untreated, it can lead to
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- ADHD in children
- Coronary artery disease
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP, pronounced SEE-pap): In this highly effective therapy, a light mask is worn during sleep. Pressure from an air compressor forces air through nasal passages and into the airway. This gentle pressure holds the airway open and allows normal sleep and breathing. CPAP is used primarily to treat obstructive sleep apnea, although recent studies suggest it may also improve the sleep of some patients with central apnea. Approximately 60% to 70% of patients who try CPAP are able to continue its use; the remainder find the apparatus too cumbersome.
- Dental Devises are showing great promise in the treatment of sleep apnea, an alternative for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea these devises are proving to be comfortable and effective for the user. Although usually NOT covered by insurances they do become an alternative when CPAP is not tolerated.
- Repositional Therapy: Often when a sleep study is done the tests indicate the apnea (stop breathing) occur when the individual is laying on their back. Gravity creates the tissues in the throat to block the airway, causing snoring and the pause of breath. Some people may benefit by retraining the individual to sleep on their side. This can be accomplished by T-shirt that can be purchased or by sewing a tennis ball into the back of a T-shirt that you may have at home.