Do You Snore? Have you been told you have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea and snoring are disturbing to your sleep and in many cases to the people who sleep around you. Most of us no at least one person who snores. Whether it’s aunt Susan or Grandpa Joe, we’ve all heard people snore. Although snoring can seem funny, it’s no laughing matter if you have obstructive sleep apnea.  There are a number of ways to help people with these disorders, but first it’s important to understand the basics about them.

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring is a noise produced when soft tissue of the upper airway collapses onto itself and vibrates against each other as you breathe. Large tonsils, a long soft palate, a large tongue,  and excess fat in the throat all contribute to airway narrowing and snoring. Generally, a more narrow airway leads to louder snoring. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol or other sedatives at bedtime and sleeping on your side, can help stop or lessen snoring.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a condition which causes you to have lapses in breathe or shallow breathe due to an obstruction of the airway during sleep. It is often goes undiagnosed because most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it. A family member and/or bed partner may first notice the signs of sleep apnea.The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea which means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses.

Sleep apnea is very common and affects as many as twenty million Americans according to the National Institute of Health. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are  male, overweight and over the age of forty. Sleep apnea can strike anyone, even children. Most cases of sleep apnea are undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.   Sleep apnea also can causes daytime sleepiness which results in the loss of productivity, and can affect quality of life because it can produce or contribute to: confusion, depression, loss of memory, agitation, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and more.

 

Symptoms and Warning Signs – Adults

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Feeling tired after sleep
  • Morning or night headaches. About half of all people with sleep apnea report headaches.
  • Heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth at night.
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Getting up during the night to urinate (nocturia).
  • Sweating and chest pain while you are sleeping.

 

Symptoms and Warning Signs – Children

  • Large Tonsils/adenoids
  • restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • bedwetting
  • breathing difficulties
  • overweight

Treatment options:

  • Surgery –Surgery may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose or reconstruct the jaw to enlarge the upper airway. Surgery carries risks of complications and infections. It is effective for many people who have physical issues that cause OSA.
  • CPAP — Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure, or CPAP , is the most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. Many people find that they have immediate symptom relief and a boost in your mental and physical energy. The CPAP  is a mask-like device which fits over your face while you sleep. It provides a constant stream of air which keeps your breathing passages open while you sleep.
  • Oral Appliances – Oral appliances are an effective treatment for snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The small plastic device looks like a sports mouth guard and fits in the mouth during sleep. These oral appliances help prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, keeping the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders, such as weight management, surgery or CPAP.